Local dance team shows the right attitude

Published 12:00 am Saturday, October 29, 2005

Perhaps it was fitting that the All-Star Academy cheerleading team competed at an event entitled Spirit Unlimited Sept. 29 at King’s Dominion – because unlimited spirit, for themselves and each other, is what carried them all the way to the top.

The senior team (age 13-18) had only gotten together in early September, but had made up for lost time in practice, said newcomer Anye’ Brodie.

&uot;We practiced three times a week,&uot; said the John Yeates Middle School student. &uot;The last week, we did it five times.&uot;

Email newsletter signup

At the Richmond event, Bridgett Jones watched teams from across Virginia, Maryland, the District of Columbia and other areas cheer away.

&uot;It was scary, because they were good,&uot; she said. &uot;I was nervous and excited, because I thought I might mess up.&uot;

Coach Anna Baxley did their makeup and Academy owner Teda Barrows gave them one last pep talk. Then the squad hit the mat – and the air (because many of their members are in ninth grade or below, they were competing in the Junior Co-Ed level, and were at level three, which allows more stunts and moves than the lower levels).

Jones and Daniel Davis listed Brodie into the air, threw her skyward, and caught her. The team danced and chanted in unison. Stunts, steps, twists, turns and cheers, both from the participants and the crowd, filled the air.

Two minutes and 30 seconds later, it was over, and Baxley and Barrows were stunned.

&uot;I was like, ‘Oh my God, where did that team come from?’&uot; Baxley said. &uot;They did awesome. I wasn’t expecting them to be so good. I gave them all a big hug, and we all took pictures.&uot;

&uot;No matter where they placed,&uot; Barrows said. &uot;We knew they’d done well as soon as they came off the mat.&uot;

The team went to grab a bite to eat while the other teams finished up. Then they came back to hear the scores. In such a competition, teams don’t actually battle each other; any squad that scores at least an 80 percent gets a first place award, and lower awards are given for lower scores.

The scores were announced out of order, and the Academy students tried to maintain their composure. Then came the call: &uot;First place in the Junior Co-Ed level, level three…. Academy All-Stars, Suffolk, Virginia!&uot;

&uot;There was a pause, and I thought, ‘Is that us?’&uot; Davis said. &uot;Then everybody started screaming.&uot;

Not to be outdone, the Academy’s Baby team (age 2-4) got second place in the Tiny division, and the Twinkles (fourth grade and below) took third in their event.

Back in Suffolk, the senior team’s already preparing for its next competition; Dec. 17, they’ll head back to Richmond for the All-Star State event.

&uot;If they pull together,&uot; Barrows said, &uot;it’s going to be awesome. We had to teach them all sorts of skills in four weeks, and for them to do that well is amazing.&uot;

Now other girls from across the area have a chance to experience the same feeling, to re-prove true the motto &uot;Everyone is a Star!&uot; that hangs on the Progress Road building wall; Barrows is searching for more participants in her squads. For more information, call 538-2300.