On Saturday, February 7th ,the varsity cheerleaders of Wheeling Park High School won 1st place in the 5A division of the OVAC cheerleading competition. This is the 18th win for Park in this competition. The win was especially significant to this squad as they also won the coveted WV State Championship title in the AAA division back on December 13, 2014 for only the second time in the school’s history.
As a mother of one of these girls and a former Park cheerleader myself, I can say that this team has worked immensely hard since August preparing for these competitions. Hours of practice, hard work and extreme dedication go into this sport…..yes I consider it a sport, as these girls are competitive athletes. For anyone who has never watched a cheering competition, these girls are incredible. Some have been practicing gymnastics since they were able to walk and they are definitely impressive. The strength and agility these girls possess to jump, tumble and throw each other high in the air repetitively is amazing. However, this immense wear and tear on the body is often accompanied with injuries of every type; almost every girl has had an injured knee, ankle or wrist at one point with some of these injuries requiring surgical intervention. But through it all these girls push on for themselves and the team. And they are a true team – you would think that a group of teenage girls who spend so much time together would be the perfect environment for drama…..not with these girls. They are teammates and friends.
Cheerleading has perhaps the longest season of any sport, but the girls never really have an “off” season. Summer months bring cheerleading clinics, camps and gymnastics classes. In the spring many of the girls also participate in track to stay in good cardiovascular shape. More importantly, however, is that these girls work just as hard in their classes in school. Many nights I have watched my daughter come home from a long practice and put in three more hours of school work to prepare for the next day. Her schedule is filled with honors classes and even a college class and she has managed to maintain over a 4.0 average all year. But it doesn’t end there. These girls are known for giving back to the community as well. They participate in Relay for Life, read at the local elementary schools and volunteer for the Miracle League of the Ohio Valley.
Needless to say these girls are amazing individuals and unstoppable as a team. They are outstanding in uniform and in the community. I am so very proud of my daughter and every one of her teammates.