Siloam Springs Herald Leader

National champions

Siloam Springs cheer team wins another trophy

- By Spencer Bailey

Over the weekend, the Siloam Springs High School cheer team brought home its first national championsh­ip in Dallas.

Jackie Clement, the head varsity cheerleadi­ng coach and director of the cheer program in the district, said that it was a very rewarding but long season.

Practices started around April of 2022, culminatin­g in a win at the state competitio­n in December. Despite being ranked second going into finals, the team was able to pull out a first place finish.

Clement said that they’ve always wanted to go to nationals, and now was the perfect time.

“We’ve always wanted to go to nationals, but it’s usually held in Orlando. Now that it’s in Dallas, it was more feasible,” said Clement.

In addition to the location change, Clement said that the support from all parties involved and a first place win at state competitio­n are what pushed them to go to nationals.

“I thought this was a pretty good team, so we started talking about it. We had a lot of parental support and interest,” said Clement. “We waited until the state competitio­n and once we won that, we knew we had to go to nationals.”

The National Cheerleade­rs Associatio­n High School Nationals was held Saturday and Sunday at Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

“The Siloam Springs School District gave us the support that we needed to get to nationals. The community really got behind the kids and helped us raise a lot of money in a short amount of time,” added Clement.

Clement, who was once a cheerleade­r herself, said that the experience was amazing.

“Thirty years ago, I won the national championsh­ip with my high school team at the exact same competitio­n and the exact same arena in Dallas,” said Clement. “I’ve experience­d it as an athlete and it’s exciting, it’s shocking, it’s rewarding and surprising. Now, I was able to experience that with my team on the coach’s side.”

“I loved it as an athlete, but it was even cooler as a coach,” added Clement. “They put everything into this. It was a rewarding experience.”

Jaylin Roberts, a senior on the team, said that the win was shocking.

“We had very high hopes to win, but we had no idea what to expect,” Roberts said. “Winning state was a huge accomplish­ment in itself, and winning nationals was a big bonus.”

This is the first time Siloam Springs cheer has been to nationals. The team has received a bid the past six years to go to nationals.

“We’ve qualified, we’ve just never gone,” said Clement. “This year, the school, myself, the parents and the athletes were all on board and we agreed that this was the year to make it happen.”

While this was the first year to attend, Clement thinks there will be more nationals in the future.

“I think every year we’ll assess the team and assess where we are. This won’t work if everybody isn’t on board. My hope is that we will continue to go to nationals,” said Clement.

Clement noted that a lot of the athletes on her cheer team are

involved in other sports and other extracurri­culars, meaning that practices are either early in the morning or later in the evening. “We have to put in a lot of work to make these practices happen.”

Maggie Lee, a senior who has been on the team all four years of high school, said that the coaches make all the difference.

“Our coaches always believed in us and pushed us to where we got at nationals. They never gave up on us, even when it was difficult,” said Lee.

Clement says that the other coaches, including assistant varsity cheerleadi­ng coach Madi Boyd, as well as Elicia Williamson, the team’s choreograp­her, are what keep the team going.

Lee and Roberts are both graduating in May and going to start classes at the University of Arkansas in the fall. While neither are planning to cheer in their college careers during their first years, both are excited for what’s to come.

“We are just so thankful for our parents and the coaches and the community,” said Lee.

 ?? Courtesy photo ?? The Siloam Springs High School cheer team poses with their first place trophy at the cheer national championsh­ips.
Courtesy photo The Siloam Springs High School cheer team poses with their first place trophy at the cheer national championsh­ips.

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