Cheer flips and flies their way to California

The renowned team returns to competing for the first time since 2019 with USA nationals


Arden Rathkopf

The Ballard High School cheer team practicing a pyramid for nationals.

Alexa Terry, A&E Editor

The cheer team continuously uses their high level of performance to wow audiences at various school games and pep rallies, raising student spirits. However this year, the black team has been able to use their talent to transcend the school environment and qualify for USA  Nationals in Anaheim California. 

This marks their fourth competition of the year as well as the most competitive up to date. The team recorded a video that was then submitted for review, and accepted by judges. In February the team will fly to LA to show off their skill on a national stage. 

Senior Captain Lucy Holman describes the work that went into making a video worth submitting. “To qualify you have to hit, which is not dropping, and not falling,” Holman said. “It took a lot of tries. We went in one day and messed up like 10 times in a row, and the next day we got it on the first try.” 

The team has been learning and perfecting their routine in order to be in their best shape for the competition. With an abnormally long season compared to other teams, they have the time to improve immensely throughout the year leading up to February nationals. Ava Babcock, another senior captain for the black team, shares the team’s yearly progression. 

“We have a routine that’s 2 and a half minutes long. We started learning it in August,” Babcock said. “We’ve been making adjustments to make it really good for our last competition.” 

Ballard has consistently presented high quality cheer to these competitions, attending nationals in 2019 as well. Their level of performance sets them apart from other schools, giving the team their impressive reputation. “Our pyramids are super creative,” Holman said. “Our tumbling is also strong. We never fall on tumbling.”

Assistant coach Maddy Kereszturi shares additional details that set the team up for success in competition. “What sets Ballard apart right now is that our routine is really clean.” Kereszturi said. “We are really going for clean and crisp and I think that gives them a way better shot when performing, and they’ll probably place higher.”

1 minute into the routine, the music stops and the team performs their cheer. This section is worth 35 points, making it a vital part of their performance. 

“It’s a whole thing with yelling and signs and we’re always known for being super clean and sharp,” Babcock said. 

With the pandemic taking their 2020-2021 season, the team decided to withdraw from competition in the following year, focusing on improving skills and readjusting to the rigorous practice schedule, meaning the team hasn’t competed since 2019.

“It was a lot, coming back to school fully, taking 6 classes, and then also being in competitive cheer. We just wanted to get better as a team,” Babcock said.

The time off allowed the team to regain confidence in their performance while increasing their drive to compete. “That amount of time off has really lit a fire in them to go back out there and give it their best.” Kereszturi said.

The team also qualified for state but has decided to opt out, instead focusing on perfecting their routine for the upcoming competition.