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No. 3 ranked team is well-rounded

Carlie McNiff, Staff Writer

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The Shores cheer team, ranked No. 3 in the state, knows all about high scores and championships.

“My team has started their season very strong,” said coach Amanda Heethuis, who has guided the team to eight first-place finishes in all eight meets this year. “The past three seasons have been our most successful yet, and we continue to grow. This year has proven to be something special already.”

The 24-member team consists of eight seniors, seven juniors, six sophomores and three freshmen.

“Every athlete on my team brings something unique and important to the group,” Heethuis said. “This is truly a team sport.”

The team is able to score high and place well due to following the rules and the difficulty of their three routines for each round.

Round one focuses on motions, jumps and voices

“This round allows for coaches to show their creativity in choreography, words, and putting together formations that showcase their athletes’ cheering abilities,” Heethuis said. “Our goal for round one this year is to set the tone of the competition and prove that we’re contenders.”

Round two is focused on standing skills in the areas of jumps, flexibility and tumbling.

“We’re able to max out the score sheet in this round due to the athleticism of our athletes; we complete a back tuck, the most difficult standing tumbling skill allowed in round two,” Heethuis said. “Our goal for this round is to land and stick ten back tucks, a goal we’re continuously working towards.”

Round three is more of a compulsory round, giving coaches freedom to incorporate stunts and tumbling in a creative way

“Last year, we had to work very hard to get a round three that could be on the state finals mat; this year, the girls are very strong stunters,” Heethuis said. “In round three, this year, we’re able to display the elite stunts and tumbling that the girls have worked so hard to acquire. Our goal, every competition in round three, is to hit all of our stunts, land all of our tumbling, and end on a strong note.”

Additionally, each round has rules for the set number of competitors.

Rounds one and three can have up to 16 while round two is based upon division, meaning Shores has to put 10 on the floor because it is in Div. 2.

Also, there are different uniforms for each round.

“It’s an opportunity for the girls to get out of their sweaty uniform and change into something new for each round,” Heethuis said. “We also have moved toward a more athletic look for one uniform, using shorts instead of a skirt. Sometimes it’s nice to have options because motion can look differently in different uniforms; we can actually use uniforms as a coaching strategy meet to meet.”

Heethuis, who had thought about not returning to coaching the team this year due to her 1-year-old daughter Lennon, said her decision to come back was rewarding.

“This team has completely recharged my batteries and is a true breath of fresh air,” Heethuis said. “They’re coachable, kind, respectful, funny, hard working, dedicated, motivated, and totally weird. I look forward to practice every day, they love my kid like she is a member of their own family, and they continuously show their appreciation for myself and my assistant coaches. This team means so much to me.”

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