FORTVILLE — Maggi Kramer asked herself, “Why not us?”
A third-year head coach of the Mt. Vernon Middle School cheer team, Kramer watched as surrounding schools made the trip to the ever-popular Sunshine State, Florida.
Fishers has been going to nationals, she said, and even Pendleton Heights. So why not the Marauders?
After winning a regional competition at Pendleton Heights on Nov. 20, Kramer’s wish — after a tiresome season — has been granted.
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Comprised of girls in grades 6 througn 9, Mt. Vernon, for the first time in school history, will travel to Orlando, Florida in February for the National Cheerleading Championship, which will air on ESPN and ESPN2.
The team finished second at the Indiana Cheer Championship (state finals) in October.
“I thought, ‘Why should they (other teams) be having all the fun?’” Kramer said of her motivation to get her team to nationals.
Unlike most school-related sports, cheerleading is nearly in season all year. The only time the team is not active, Kramer said, is between the middle of February and April 1.
Like many girls on the team, eighth-grader Ana Parsley has been anticipating this moment for months.
“It has been an overly exciting year,” Parsley said. “Even over the summer when nationals was first mentioned, I felt my adrenaline rush and suddenly, all I wanted was to be there with my team.
“It has been a long year, but I would not change it for anything. Making it to nationals for the first time is exhilarating and has proven that all the hard work and hours put into practice has paid off. It opens a door to opportunity and bonding to travel to Orlando.”
During competition in Florida, the team’s routine won’t include simply showing up and performing a few stunts. The girls will compete in the Game Day Division and be required to perform various routines selected at random by the judges.
“There is no music, and usually half the routine is music,” Kramer said, a former varsity coach at Warren Central and Bishop Chatard. “It’s like a game day situation. You go out there and the announcer will give them a queue. For example, there’s a timeout on the field. Or there is an offensive and defensive sideline (cheer) they have to listen for.
“It’s just a three-minute routine of listening and watching. It’s more of, originally, what cheerleading is meant to be.”
However, there also will be time for play. For some of the girls, it will be the first time they will visit Walt Disney World.
“I can’t wait to enjoy the competition and Disney with my team,” said Annie Hankins, who is Kramer’s daughter and a seventh-grader at the school.
She will have some fun before, too. On Jan. 8, the team will visit, per special invitation, Indiana University to see the five-time NCAA national champion Hoosiers perform.
To help ease the cost of the trip, a generous donation was given to each girl from the Mt. Vernon athletics department, Kramer said. To raise additional funds, the team will be hosting a Trivia Night from 6 to 9 p.m. Jan. 21 at the American Legion in Fortville (207 South Merrill Street). Dinner will be served by Kinsey’s Italian Cafe, and tickets are $30 per person, with six people allowed per team.
“Some of these girls have never been on a place, and the whole dynamic of them getting to experience this is great,” Kramer said. “We are very appreciative of the athletic department.”
Head Coach: Maggi Kramer
Assistant Coach: Jordan Sell
Assistant Coach: Candice Pelley
Who: Mt. Vernon Middle School Cheer
When: February 11-12
Where: Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida
TV: ESPN and ESPN 2