Young cheerers want to yell and dance their way to regionals

Published 12:00 am Thursday, October 24, 2002

For six consecutive years, Laura Nelson was past of a cheering squad that won the annual Pop Warner Football Cheerleading Competition. &uot;I’ve been cheering for Bennett’s Creek football teams since I was five,&uot; said the John Yeates Middle School (JYMS) student, 12. &uot;I love to cheer, because I’m really perky and it helps me be with my friends.&uot;

Last season, however, Laura’s streak came to an end. As she sat on the sidelines with a broken foot, he team failed to qualify for regional competition. But this time around, she vows, her junior midget cheerers are will be heading down to Wilmington, NC for the regional round come Nov. 29.

&uot;We’re just awesome,&uot; she said, as her team practiced at Driver Elementary School on Thursday evening. &uot;We’re all working together.&uot;

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Teams from across Smithfield, Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Suffolk will be competing at the tournament, which will begin at 10 a.m. Saturday at Portsmouth’s Churchland High School. Though participation is optional, each age group (there are six) can send a team. Besides Bennetts Creek, Suffolk will be represented by the Inner-City Steelers.

Breanne Lowe and Brittani Gill have two of the hardest jobs on the squad: after Breanne is hoisted in the air above her teammates, Gill is one of the spotters who has to catch her when she falls.

&uot;I got to do this because I’m still,&uot; said the 4’9&uot; Lowe, a student at JYMS. &uot;It’s a combination of being excited and afraid, because you never know where you’re going to land. I’ll probably feel even more nervous when all the people are watching me at the tournament.&uot;

Catching Breanne can be a painful job, says Gill. &uot;She’s really light, but her hands always hit me in the face when I catch her,&uot; Gill said of her teammate. &uot;You always act like there’s no one else in the room. I’ve been catching people ever since I started cheering when I was five.&uot;

One of the Warriors’ most popular cheers goes something like this: &uot;Hey! Hey, you! You know what to do! Rock with the maroon, and roll with the gold!&uot; (maroon and gold are the team colors). Desiree’ Mitchell hopes that the Lady Warriors can ride the cheer to regionals.

&uot;We have a great team, great coaches, and great parents,&uot; said the 12-year-old JYMS student. &uot;This team has spirit, friendship, and the power to rule!&uot;