By MARGIE NETZEL - firstname.lastname@example.org
HARPERSFIELD TOWNSHIP —
Taylor Compton stretches her hands high above her head and then slaps her palms on the hard gymnasium floor. Her chin tucks in and her feet flip into the air and — WHAM — she is upright, hands high, with a big smile on her face.
“OK!” she said. “Let’s do it again.”
Taylor is one of 12 girls on the Fusion Cheer and All-Stars youth team. The youth and senior team members traveled to two major competitions over the weekend, competing at the Champion Cheer Central Nationals in Cleveland today where they will compete against teams from N.Y., Pa., W. Va., and Ohio.
The girls — 24 in all — practice cheering, dancing and stunting once a week at Spire Institute.
All-star competition cheerleading includes stunts forbidden by the state in high school cheerleading. The program fuses dance, cheer and gymnastics for a higher level of performance and competition, Fusion All-Star program owner Debbie Seenarine-Wilson said.
Fusion head coach Kathy Pape said the team started practicing in August and have since become fierce competitors.
“It is awfully hard to learn how to stunt and that is a hug part of all-star cheer,” she said. “It is such an intimidating thing to do, especially if you have never done it before — they go from being individual cheerleaders at schools across the county to being a cohesive team.”
Coaches Pape, Scott DeCola, Elmer Decipeda and Allen Wilson volunteer their time to make the team the best it can be, Seenarine-Wilson said.
Allen Wilson said the team is improving steadily and performing beautifully for a first-year team.
“This group, for a first-year team, has moved up to a level of stunting and cheering that is astounding,” he said. “They have learned so quickly and developed their skills so well. They really make it look easy.”
Seenarine-Wilson said most teams practice three or four times a week. The Fusion team gets just one day a week to practice and train.
“What they are accomplishing during that time is really amazing,” she said. “With just one day of practice and all our coaches are volunteers — and the team is just taking the competition by storm.”