All-Star Cheerleader Wins Grand Champion

Nabila Siddiqui, Co-editor

   Senior, Sara Thompson, alongside her All-star team, won Grand Champions for her teams division recently 

   “We won our division, which was just our small sector, and then we won, out of all like divisions and levels four through six. That’s what’s called grand champion. And then we ended up getting the highest score in the competition. Out of like everybody. And the paid bid is what we were rewarded for that,” Thompson said.

   In all-star cheer, in years past, Thompson received the coveted finalist title for the D2 summit in 2017. Then, the next year, she and her team won at the American Cheer Association and the US finals. Additionally, the all-star team won the aid bid to the Cheer Championships in Universal Studios in both 2019 and 2020. Unfortunately, they were unable to attend in 2020.

   “Basically, a paid bid is like all of your registration fees and your park ticket, because it’s in Universal Studios, like everything is paid for for you so that’s always nice to win,” Thompson said.

  After participating in gymnastics since the third grade, Thompson gained inspiration from her older sister, who already participated in cheer, to become a cheerleader. 

   “After seeing my sister get into cheer, I said ‘oh, well, I think i’m gonna try that’ and then I did it for seventh and eight grade and ninth grade in Chaffin,” Thompson said.

   Thompson continued school cheer throughout all of middle school. After graduating from Chaffin Jr High in May 2018, she remained involved in middle school cheer. Sara interns for the Chaffin cheer team where she helps the aspiring high school cheerleaders out.

   “Currently, she has returned to chaffin as an intern for my cheerleading team…Sara brought fresh ideas, a dynamic personality, and exciting choreography back to the team during this time. I could not be more proud of how she has tackled new roles and challenges,” Chaffin cheer coach, Sarah Wilbourn, said.

   Thompson pursued school cheer at Southside where she was on the team for 10th and 11th grade. Thompson cheered as a base on the team until she eventually left her senior year.

   “Sara Thompson was a member of Southside Cheer her sophomore year and was co-captain her junior year. She helped lead her team to multiple first place trophies their first year competing in the Game Day division. Sara is a very talented cheerleader. She has beautiful hyperextended jumps, sharp motions, is a strong base, and has overall great technique,” cheer coach, Hannah Clifton, said. 

   During the 2019-2020 school year, Thompson participated in both school cheer and cheer with her All-star team. This proved to be hectic for the junior, forcing her to choose between school cheer and all star cheer.

   “I spent like sophomore and junior year doing both. It was crazy hard. Like, it was just like constant conflict, you know, and I would go to Southside and then leave and immediately go to Van Buren and that gym and practice and not get home till like 10pm,” Thompson said.

   When initially faced with this decision Thompson intended on leaving her all star cheer team and focusing on school cheer, however, the delay in the Southside tryouts due to COVID provided her with time to rethink her decision.

   “To me cheer is a sport and while I really liked competing with southside, I found that dynamic more in my all-star team. For me, I like competition and pushing myself to get better and win more and all-star cheer gave me more of that dynamic,” Thompson said.

   Thompson remains content with her decision to not leave All-star cheer because of the opportunities to win awards it gives her. Trophies and awards, however, will not be the only things Thompson takes away from her time with the All-star cheer team. Thompson emphasizes the deep sense of camaraderie that her team, despite them being the same group of people she competes with, provided her with.

“I think that, like being close with the people you’re competing with, because it’s hard, you know, so it’s like you always want to try and push harder for the person next to you…I think that’s what I’ve gotten from it is that like, you know, your team is the most important, no matter your skill set, however close you are with your team is how good you’re going to be,” Thompson said.

   Thompson remains certain that her senior year won’t be her last year cheering because she plans on going into cheer as a career. Instead of attending college for the 2021-2022 school year, she plans on taking a gap year where she will intern with the Chaffin cheer team again and potentially intern with the Trinity Jr High cheer team to increase her .

   “I don’t have any college plans right now because I’m looking at taking a gap year. I’ll work on cheer next year, like this week I’m trying out for cheer camp counselor so that should keep me busy all summer. Ultimately, I want to be a cheer coach, it’s my end goal. And with the internships and camp counselors, I’ll be cheering, just not with college right away,” Thompson said.