By Polly Lynn
On Jan. 24 and 25, the Rutland Raiders cheerleading team will compete on a national stage in Dallas, Texas. The 23-member team attended a National Cheerleading Association skills camp last summer, where they earned a bid to attend the two-day national competition. The Rutland cheerleaders are the first Vermont team ever to place in the top three at their New England Championships as well as being the first Vermont team in 12 years to make it to nationals.
Coach Cara Gauvin, owner of Peak Performance All Star Dance and Cheer, has coached the Rutland school’s team for 22 years. She has taken many teams to the summer skills camp and they’ve done well in the past, but have never received a national bid, she explained on Facebook.
“This is a pretty big deal,” Gauvin said.
The National Cheerleading Association Senior and Junior High School National Championships are being held at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas, Texas. According to the Nation Cheerleading Association (NCA) website the Rutland cheerleaders are first scheduled to compete at 7:36 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 24. They will be competing in the Advanced Small Coed division.
The team faces a new challenge in Dallas unlike their usual competitions in the Northeast; they will have to perform one cheer routine and one dance routine. The team is used to competing in dance routines, as that is the more common format in the Northeast, Gauvin explained in an interview with WCAX. “When we normally compete in Vermont the rule is three minutes, you can use as much music as you want, you technically don’t have to cheer, which is what we do… So this is pretty new to us,” she said.
The new format required lots of practice, Gauvin added. But the team is ready for the challenge.
Part of that practice has included performing their routine in front of a live audience. “Come out and watch our girls perform their Nationals routine tonight at the RHS/MR boys basketball game! One week and they will be in Texas making us PROUD!” they posted Jan. 16.
In addition to rigorous practice sessions, the team has also been putting its fundraising skills to work. The squad has been hosting various fundraising activities including a car wash, golf tournament and an interactive “Frozen” event for children at Wilson Castle in Proctor.
The team also offered baby-sitting at the Diamond Run Mall on the weekends while parents finished their holiday shopping.
The team will depart from Rutland on Jan. 22. For more details visit Peak Performance All Star Dance on Facebook.