The third time was the charm for the Juneau-Douglas High School: Yadaa.at Kalé cheer team this week as the team has now won three-consecutive Alaska School Activities Association First National Bank Alaska Cheer Championship Competition.
The team traveled to Anchorage to compete on Tuesday at the Alaska Airlines Center. Coach Carlene Nore said the secret to the team’s continued success isn’t quite so secret, it simply comes down to, “a lotta, lotta hard work,” especially for a year that saw some of its highest participating numbers, according to Nore.
“Sandy Wagner, who is in charge of the cheer competition with ASAA stated that this was the highest number of teams attending from all of the other years prior, so that was really nice,” Nore said. “We had teams that hadn’t been there in 10-15 years. Our Division 1, which is for the larger schools, had 11 teams in our division.”
Nore explained that one aspect of the competition that was the same was the breakdown on what each of the teams are judged on. Nore said the competition was divided into two sections: game day, which consisted of cheer, a timeout cheer and three situationals for a scoring component of 60 points. The second section was the traditional routine which had a scoring component of 40.
JDHS junior Mila Griffin has been with the team for three years now and said a lot of the credit for the team’s consistent success comes down to good coaching.
“The reason behind why we work so hard is Carlene, she really keeps us focused and we are very scheduled on everything we do,” Griffin said. “We even practice situations where things can go wrong and we have to recover from that, so I think she’s been a really big help this season in keeping us together so we can continue to be successful.”
JDHS junior Emily Delgado is in her second year on the team after taking off her sophomore year. Delgado said the biggest obvious difference between her freshman year going to state compared to this year is the lack of restrictions in place due to the pandemic, which made all the difference in terms of fully appreciating the opportunity.
“This season has differed a lot from freshman year because my freshman year was all online school and COVID was still very mandated in Juneau, so we had to take a lot of precautions, sanitizing a lot and wearing masks, and it was a little bit of a different dynamic, but I think we made it work,” Delgado said. “So, coming back this season, I’ve been able to travel with the team to state, whereas in freshman year we were only able to take a video of our routine, so we didn’t get the experience of performing in front of a crowd or our student section or Juneau for regions, so it was a very fun experience.”
Emma Busby is a senior at JDHS and has been on the team for all four years of her high school career. Busby agreed with Delgado that much of what made this year’s state experience special was the opportunity to make up for COVID-shaped years. Additionally, Busby echoed Griffin’s comments about the importance of Nore’s preparation for working around things going wrong because you never know when it might come in handy.
“When we were performing at a certain point, I was right at the front by myself and there were baskets going behind me and lifts, and the music started but it was so quiet and I thought I heard someone in front of me yell to stop but we just kept going because we had practiced that and we counted through it and we still hit everything. I think it really impressed a lot of people because we couldn’t hear our music but we know it by heart and everyone hit everything together, so it was just a really cool moment.”
Next up for JDHS Cheer, the team will perform for the 2023 Juneau-Douglas Dance Team Showtime performance April 7-8. JDHS cheer team performs on April 7, and perform their state routine.
Nore said that the entire team and the coaches remain indebted to the community for the continued support over the years.
“A big thanks to the community for all of their help with all of our fundraising,” Nore said. “We were able to travel to nationals this year, attend regions and then also state.”
• Contact reporter Jonson Kuhn at firstname.lastname@example.org.