The Northwest Colorado All Star Wildkat Cheerleader squad won the Cheerleader of America (COA) regional tournament held Saturday at Northglenn High School just north of Denver.
" I had tears in my eyes when the girls won," Owner and Head Coach Dawn Rader said. "I was so proud of the girls."
The cheerleaders mastered a 2:30 minute cheer, dance, tumbling and stunts routine and were judged on their performance, especially their attitude.
"Attitude is smiling with their teeth showing and having a happy expression on their faces." Rader said. "If your attitude motivates the crowd you get more points."
The cheerleaders won an automatic bid to the national tournament when they won regionals, but declined the offer. Instead, the group will compete in the National Cheerleader Association (NCA) West Coast Invitational held in March at Disneyland.
"The nationals are very competitive and cheerleader squads practice for weeks to win this event." Rader said. "But, we want the girls to have a positive attitude if they win or lose."
And, despite winning or losing, the team is having a good time.
"I felt pretty good about winning the competition," cheerleader Michelle Hanmond said. "Because it was my first competition."
Hanmond is a nine-year-old who enjoys being a cheerleader.
"It is a lot of fun and Dawn is a great coach."
The 27 member cheerleader team is divided into two age groups. Girls sixth grade or younger and called kats and girls fourth grade or younger are called kittens. Both kats and kitten work great together as a team, Rader said.
"We (cheerleaders) are out there to represent the community of Craig and we appreciate the donations received and all the community support," Rader said.
Being a Wildkat cheerleader is more than smiling and looking good.
"Regionals is a good building block for confidence in front of audiences," Rader said.
The cheerleaders will be competing in the NCA regionals in Grand Junction next Saturday at Mesa College.
"I want to win Saturday because we have only two trophies." Hanmond said. "I feel everybody can do it as a team."