FHS cheer squad heads to UIL state competition, hopes to break into top 10
With the pageantry, thrills and work of the fall cheer season behind them, the Fredericksburg High School cheerleaders have set their sights on state competition.
On Friday, Jan. 15, they will take part in the 2021 University Interscholastic League Spirit State Championships at the Fort Worth Convention Center. They will leave Fredericksburg on Thursday.
It’s only the third year for FHS to compete at the state level, and first under the FHS athletic department banner.
In 2019, the squad finished 70th in the competition and in 2020 they moved up 30 spaces to finish 40th.
“My goal is for the team to move up 30 more spaces into the top 10,” said Assistant Cheer Coach Michelle Aguirre.
According to coaches, the team is ready.
“Their strength is working as a team and being in sync,” Aguirre said. “They are sharp and help one another.”
Head Cheer Coach Jodi Wilder hired an instructor from the Universal Cheerleaders Association to help with choreography and the team has been practicing in the morning and during first period for one and half hours, Monday through Friday, and two hours after school twice a week.
Wilder, a former Texas Tech University cheerleader and cheer coach for a 5A high school in the past, was Athletic Director Lance Moffett’s first choice for leading the team under the athletic department umbrella.
When former Superintendent Jeff Brasher asked Moffett if athletics could incorporate cheerleading into athletics in order to help with disciplinary issues, Moffett said he gave a list of criteria he wanted met in order to bring the team into the fold.
“I wanted the coach to be paid the same as a sport coach, because the club sponsor was paid a very nominal fee,” Moffett said. “I wanted Jodi Wilder to be involved, because I knew she was a very good cheer coach.”
The rest of the requirements included funding the program like other sports with uniforms and equipment and creating a cheer handbook that would incorporate the athletic code of conduct.
“When I took over this program, I really encouraged (Aguirre) to stay, because she hadn’t planned on doing that,” Wilder said. “When I consulted with her last year, I had seen her work with the girls and I was so impressed with her.
“I couldn’t be more blessed to have her as my assistant coach. She’s good. We are always on the same page,” she said.
This comes as no surprise. Both coaches have gymnastics backgrounds. Growing up, Wilder was part of a club team in Houston and Aguirre’s club experience was in Midland.
Aguirre is happy with the cheer squad’s new designation.
“We were put under the athletic umbrella and we deserve it, because they are athletes,” Aguirre said. “Now, they will get more respect from the community, other teams and schools.”
This Friday will be a good testing ground. The team will be evaluated on their game day practically, in other words, how they lead routines on the sidelines at school sporting events.
This includes criteria on how to lead a crowd, incorporating skills, performance, motions and overall routine.
“The instructor came and took the band chant and choreographed it,” said Wilder. “We’re diligently working on that right now.”
Eighteen cheerleaders will be heading to competition. Each one had to try out for the spring competition.
This year’s competitive cheer squad members are: Captain Landry Dartez, Sarah Easley, Madison Lugo, Vivian Monaco, Lexi Nixon, Delia Threadgill, Annabelle Page, Emily Rodriguez, Bella Rozek, Clara Stehling, Tori Van Epps, Jaci Cantu, Sydney Davis, Mara Romo, Katie Van Epps, Madilyn Reeh, Ava Young, Taylor Harris and Riley Ellebracht, mascot. Alternates are Leslie Neri and Katie Feuge.