Junior flyer Jenna Watson tops the pyramid in the varsity cheerleading state routine at Lindenwood University.

Best in Missouri!!

Varsity cheerleading takes state title.

December 19, 2018

First state win in 17 years for cheerleading

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First state win in 17 years for cheerleading

Members of the varsity cheer squad hold up the state championship trophy.

Members of the varsity cheer squad hold up the state championship trophy.

Members of the varsity cheer squad hold up the state championship trophy.

Members of the varsity cheer squad hold up the state championship trophy.

2001, A good portion of the students that attend South were not even born yet. The first generation iPod is the popular device of the time, and the first Apple store opened this year. Girl are wearing low rise jeans, trying to look like their favorite stars like Paris Hilton and Gwen Stefani. This era that seems forever ago was the last time that Parkway South High cheer placed first place at State competition. That is, until a few weeks ago on Dec. 2 when South competed at Lindenwood University and received first place.

Junior Molly Hogan explained the emotions that came to the girls when they found out they had won state. When they placed first they were in front of Lee’s Summit, Marshfield, Perryville, Rock Bridge, William Chrisman, Centralia, Westran and Osceola.

“We were all sitting in a circle, holding hand so tightly out of anticipation. When the announcer said we got first place, it felt so unreal, I couldn’t help the tears that were streaming down my face,” said Hogan.

This year, the squad has faced many complications but it continued to push past them. The team had to replace and adapt to a new coach in the middle of the season, when former coach Megan Cunningham got a new job at a different school. The squad is also constantly battling other activities for practice space to prepare for competitions.

“This squad is very good at getting stuff done and being productive at practices despite all of the conditions we have to adjust to,” said Coach Taylor Farmon.

Farmon said that the squad fought hard to continuously improve. After placing first at Regionals, everyone felt motivated to work as hard as they could. Especially in the week before competition, the practices are grueling and exhausting but they reward of winning always makes up for it.

“All of our injuries and painful practices were worth it because we put in the work and were determined to reach out goal,” said Jenna Watson, junior.

While this big win for South is extremely exciting, the celebration must be short lived. They must get back to work in order to prepare to travel to Nationals in Dallas, Texas in January for the first time in South’s cheerleading experience. Nationals will be a whole new world for the cheerleaders and they must still keep working.

“I am nervous, but very excited. I have so much faith in the team, and I am prepared to keep pushing to improve to be our best for Nationals,” said Coach Farmon.

Hogan said that the squad thrives on the support from each other and from the school and student body. While school spirit has been low this year, the squad hopes for support while making these big steps to represent South as best as they can.

“All activities, including cheer, could use a bump in involvement and support from the student body. I am excited to watch the squad keep building on their success,” said athletic director Pat Burns.

Hogan said that the squad this year is very close knit and the friendship and trust between each other and with Coach Farmon is a crucial key to their success.

“The team is well bonded this year, we are all good friends with each other, I love and trust the girls on the squad and I can always count on them to be there for me,” said Hogan.

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Win was emotional for Patriots

For the first time in 17 years, the Parkway South High School varsity cheerleading is now the best in state. They will be in Dallas, Texas for nationals from Jan. 26-Jan.27.

“It’s really nice being the state champions. It’s very validating for all of the work we put in to get here,” said Brendan Davis, junior.

Davis is not the only one that is excited about being best in state.

¨It feels great to finally win state. We’ve been working towards this since my sophomore year, and I think we deserved to win from all of our hard work,¨ said Cameron Vitale, senior.

Taylor Farmon, head coach of Varsity Cheer agreed.

¨It is such a great feeling when you’re able to say you’ve accomplished one of your goals. One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that this state championship win was more than just the work put in this school year. The team deserved this win but I always tell them it’s hard getting to the top but it’s even harder staying there so our hard work will continue. Stay tuned,¨ Farmon said.

One of the team captains, senior Clara Franz, is also excited about winning.

“It’s exciting because the last few years we got third and second,” said Franz.

According to Davis their success came from this year’s new cheerleaders.

¨Well we brought up a lot of new talent so this year’s team is bigger. We were very determined. We made sure everyone was pulling their equal weight,¨ said Davis.

However, Franz differs on the factors that made the varsity cheer team first in state.

¨I think we all just knew we were capable, so we just put in the time and work,¨ said Franz.

According to Davis, the practice schedule changes when competitions come up.

“Typically we have 2 practices a week but the month of [the competition] we have 3-5,¨ said Davis.

Franz said that, after all the practicing, they really have very little time to rehearse before the competition begins.

“Usually we get there really early,” said Franz, ”but we only get ten minutes to practice.”

Franz has done cheer since even before high school.

“I started in 8th grade and cheered all 4 years in high school,” said Franz

While Franz started in middle school, Davis had a different story.

“I only started my freshman year,” said Davis, “but before that I was a gymnast for years.”

Franz says that one of the team’s strengths is their ability to help each other whenever needed.

¨We’re all good at helping each other and giving constructive criticism,¨ said Franz.

However, Farmon thinks the team’s ability to recover is their biggest strength.

This team’s strength and weakness is their ability to recover. We’ve had quite a few injuries this year. Each person brings something different to the team and our routine is choreographed to highlight everyone’s strengths and the value they add so when we lose someone it changes everything. But the team always recovers mentally and physically from that,” said Farmon, ¨At the same time, we strive for perfection and sometimes when we aren’t performing to the best of our abilities it can be frustrating and recovering from that is something I want to work on more with them.”

However, having strengths doesn’t safeguard them from challenges.

¨This team has fought through many challenges; injuries, leadership changes, and much more this year and their resilience and ability to trust and lean on each other through everything is, in my opinion, why they’ve been so successful,¨ said Farmon.

Vitale thinks differently.

¨Our weaknesses are getting defeated really easily, but we try to boost each others confidence to make sure we’re all motivated,¨ Vitale said.

Those bumps in the road have not stopped Farmon from admiring them.

¨I’d just like to say how extremely proud I am of this group,” said Farmon.”They are so deserving of their wins and I want them to know their hard work does not go unnoticed and they’ve made my first year coaching varsity cheerleading so memorable. I love you all!¨

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