Members of the Dearborn Heights Cheer Division 7 Elite squad show off their second place banner from last year’s Young Champions National Cheer Competition. Two other squads from DHC were victorious at that competition. All of the teams are preparing for the 2014 YCNCC, held this summer in Las Vegas.
By BOB OLIVER
HEIGHTS — The Dearborn Heights Young Champions Cheer teams are working hard and are prepared to bring home more hardware from national championship competition this summer.
“We are all very excited for the upcoming competition,” team coach Natalie Cunningham said. “So far preparation for this years Nationals is going great.”
This year’s Young Champions National Cheer Competition takes place in Las Vegas July 26.
At last year’s national championship in Virginia Beach, Va., Dearborn Heights Cheer’s Division 4 took first place, Division 5 Elite squad placed first and the Division 7 Elite squad placed second.
Cunningham said that divisions 4, 5 and 7 have already earned enough points to compete for this year’s national titles and that a new Division 6 elite squad will compete at regional and state-wide events in hopes of qualifying for the Las Vegas tournament.
“They are doing fantastic so far and we will find out in June if they have earned a ‘wild card’ bid to nationals to join our other teams,” Cunningham said.
She said that last year there was no Division 6 squad but as team’s were formed for 2014 there were enough talented athletes to fill out the additional squad.
Cunningham said that the YC Cheer team is split into seven divisions and is made up of youths aged 8 to 17.
Divisions 1 through 4 are entry level and strictly based on age while 5, 6 and 7 are based on skill level and require tryouts for admittance.
“The teams gradually increase in skill level from our lowest Division 1 to our most challenging and highest skill level Division 7,” Cunningham said.
Divisions 1 to 4 train at the Richard Young Center, 5400 Mckinley, and divisions 5 to 7 train in Romulus.
Most of the athletes are from Dearborn Heights, but Cunningham said that that is not a requirement and that the team has members from surrounding communities.
Cunningham said that besides the athletics, the children learn several life skills in the program.
“Cheerleading is a wonderful sport that helps students learn self-confidence, trust and dedication, just to name a few things,” Cunningham said. “So many athletes have started with me as very shy and not all that talkative but by the end of the year they are totally different kids and are willing to perform on a stage in front of hundreds of people.”
Cunningham also said the team is looking for sponsors for this year’s competitions.
“Each family that has a cheerleader attending ationals has many financial responsibilities including flight, hotel, registration fees and practice fees, so we do fundraising as a means to help families attend this wonderful event,” Cunningham said. “Donations assist in traveling and competition expenses and all donations go directly to the cheerleaders.”
Potential sponsors can email Cunningham at [email protected] for more information.
(Bob Oliver can be reached at [email protected].)