Three Cheers for Cheerleaders!

Flying high with the Eaglecrest cheerleaders and their competitive sport.

Julie, an Eaglecrest cheerleader, leads the team off the mat and quickly finds a trash can to puke in. It happens at every performance, she says.

Hansen-Vigil is ecstatic. The girls showed the smiles and enthusiasm in spades. One of her assistants pumps a fist and says with assurance, "That was it! That was it!"

After releasing herself from the crush of elation, Jo Jo runs over, and in an oh-my-god exhilarated voice says, "Quote me on this: No matter what happens, that was the greatest cheer of our lives."

Anthony Camera
Coach Gwen Hansen-Vigil keeps her squad on firm footing.
Anthony Camera
Coach Gwen Hansen-Vigil keeps her squad on firm footing.

When the judges are ready to announce the winner, the other teams gather near the trophy table and sit down in powwow circles. As is the custom at cheerleading competitions, the place erupts in a sort of cheer-down, where, one by one, the most spirited teams offer one last look at their stuff.

The Eaglecrest girls sit on the floor, near a row of seats promptly filled by family members. As the cheering goes on, the girls add some volume to the cacophony, then gradually calm down and wait with the rest of the audience.

Hansen-Vigil is standing with her assistant coaches and clutching her infant daughter. Her daughter pops free for a few seconds, and when the judge declares that's he prepared to announce the 5A division winner, Hansen-Vigil tugs her daughter back into her arms and lets out an "Oh, God." She looks over at her girls and smiles.

"In second place," the judge's voice booms around the stadium, "Eaglecrest."

There's silence. The girls are stunned -- the judge said it so quickly.

Then they react. They clap, cheer. One of them stands up and goes to retrieve the trophy.

Hansen-Vigil holds her daughter and gives her assistants a "How about that?" look.

When the trophy gets back to the circle and the girls wait to hear who beat them, they pass the piece of wood around and kiss it, one by one, as is the Eaglecrest tradition.

Hansen-Vigil goes to the floor to meet her girls, some of who are starting to tear up. The knee braces and strips of ankle tape have already been torn off and tossed into their gear bags. The perspiration has already dried. The countless hours of practice are far from their minds. Hansen-Vigil has to remind them that sportsmanship dictates that they go over and congratulate the girls from Fruita Monument.

"Remember how you felt when you came off the mat?" their coach asks. "You did a great job. You couldn't have done better. You should be proud of yourselves."

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