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Cheers!

CMS squad caps comeback with regional title

Like a phoenix from the ashes, the Craig Middle School cheerleading squad has risen from near death to take first place at a regional competition at Mesa State College.

It’s been a four-year labor to bring the team to the win against its nemesis — Dove Creek.

More than four years ago, the CMS cheerleading squad lost its coach, and school officials had no plans to hire another.



It was a program plagued with internal problems.

Renee Chason had just arrived in Craig. She’d coached a lot of sports, but cheerleading wasn’t one of them.



It is now.

Her daughter, who was a member of the Kentucky Wildcats cheerleading squad for four years begged her mother to take over when she discovered Craig was without a coach.

Chason said yes. She’d been involved with the sport as long as her daughter and knew the students and the necessary safety measures.

“They were going to throw away the program,” Chason said. “They said it wasn’t savable, and we saved it.”

It took her three months to convince school officials the program could be a success. She submitted proposals and held fund-raisers.

She got the go-ahead, but no money.

That first year, community donations were used to replace 15-year-old uniforms.

“We worked hard and slowly we started to put together some awesome routines,” Chason said.

And each year, they’ve gone to regionals.

CMS is the only middle school in this area to have a squad, so there are few teams in the region. This year, the girls competed solely against Dove Creek Middle School — a school that’s beaten them every time they’ve competed against each other.

“To them, it doesn’t matter how many teams compete, Dove Creek has always been their competition,” Chason said.

The competition two years ago was particularly hard on the girls. They performed stunts generally reserved for older, more experienced squads and expected a win.

It didn’t come, though Craig’s squad did win an award for choreography.

Practices were intense the week before the competition — some beginning at 7 a.m. Cheerleaders on the high school squad attended some practices to lend a hand.

“The trophy meant as much to past cheerleaders as to the girls who won it,” Chason said. “Really that trophy belongs to all those girls.”

It was a touch-and-go competition, eighth-grader Tasha Bullock said. The team messed up its routine every time it practiced, but when the competition started, everything went right.

“When we got out there, we nailed it,” she said. “It felt really good because we’d always been second.”

When they heard they’d won, team members broke into tears.

“We all cried, we were so excited,” said Stephanie Balderston, an eighth-grader. “Nothing went wrong. We stuck all our stunts and were all in time. I can’t describe it, it was just so awesome.”

The squad will continue practicing through March as it cheers on the girls basketball team.

Christina M. Currie can be reached at 824-7031, ext. 210, or ccurrie@craigdailypress.com.


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