The Charlotte competitive cheerleading team has been trying to reach new heights.
And they accomplished that this year while putting together the best season in program history.
A team that veteran Charlotte coach Yvonne Ridge said was the most focused and determined of any she has ever coached captured a sixth straight league title, won their first district championship and advanced to the Division 2 state finals for the first time. The Orioles, who were voted the LSJ team of the month for February, capped their season by placing sixth at the state meet.
“All season the girls really performed well under pressure and they definitely improved between districts and states,” said Ridge, who just completed her 14th season guiding Charlotte. “They really focused in and left all they had out on the mat.”
The team rallied around their seniors after they introduced the mantra “Charlotte Strong,” in memory of a classmate.
“Each time we went out on the mat and said ‘Charlotte Strong’ we said it with so much power,” Charlotte senior Kaitlynn Hammond. “Being together like that had so much meaning and created so much drive.”
The dedication and drive played in instrumental part of the Orioles’ success, senior base Harley White said.
“They pushed their hardest every single practice and every single time they were on the mat,” White said.
It was a gradual process for Charlotte to evolve into the team that concluded a season by making history. The Orioles’ roster consisted primarily of underclassmen and they needed time to put things together. Once they did, things took off.
“I think we all began to work really well with one another,” Charlotte sophomore flyer Mady Conklin said. “We always worked as a team. When competing we could really pull it off because of our team chemistry. We began to feel each other on the mat and moved together.”
As the season progressed, the girls began to hone in on the small details. After being critiqued by a former state finals judge before districts, the team was able to discard their mistakes and improve their average round one score by almost 20 points.
“The ladies Improved with their skills by encouraging one another and that energy and support only grew throughout the season,” Charlotte tumbling coach Mike Houlsorth said.