"Brrr it's cold in here ... we need a new jacket."
While most of the Northwest Colorado Wildkats and Kittens have plenty of jackets, they really want one more. The one that says, "Jamz Cheerleading National Champions."
"We really want those jackets," said Wildkat Cassie Rogers. "That's all we've been talking about."
"We have signs with that saying on the walls of our gym," said coach Dawn Rader. "One of the moms went and bought her daughter a new jacket because she thought they were complaining about the cold."
With vision of first-place jackets, back handsprings and, of course, all of the boys they'll meet, most of the Wildkats and Kittens left today for Las Vegas en route to the Jamz Nationals competition Friday.
"We've upped the routine since regionals and we think we can compete with anybody if we do it well," said Rader. "This year's routine is much more complex and stronger for the Wildkats."
Last year, the Wildkats, which includes fifth through eighth graders, took eighth place while the Kittens, which include students in fourth grade and under, placed second. They are both taking routines that have been practiced since August to Vegas and hoping for the best.
"We've been working on stunt after stunt," said Wildkat Megan Rader. "There is more room for improvement but we just have to get up there and perform."
One of the disadvantages that Rader said her team faces is the smaller talent pool from
which to pick.
"Every one of my girls do their absolute best and are very talented," she said. "But we're competing against teams that have 80
girls to pick from."
So instead of having a handful of girls who can do back handsprings and one girl who can do a scorpion (pulling one leg up to the head from the back) like the Wildkats, other teams have 20 girls who can do handsprings and scorpions.
"The best thing is that we've made it and we're competing," Rader said. "But we're going to keep coming back until we're right up there with the best and the biggest squads."
Progress is what the cheerleaders strive for each year and looking back at it, Rader said she's amazed.
"It's amazing how far we've advanced," she said. "The things we thought were hard back then are just the basics for us now."
Now with the additional coaching of Tammy Rogers, Fran Hammond, Jannie Brenner and Suzie Lord, the two teams will see how their progress matches up against others.
"The competitions are a lot different than competing a routine at home," said Cassie Rogers. "There you're just competing for the judges, but you can't see anybody so it's not that bad."
David Pressgrove can be reached at 824-7031 or firstname.lastname@example.org.