Saxons HIT at State Competition

Danna Raveria-Cortez
The Saxons perform a scale at the IHSA state meet on February 7-8. The team placed 22nd.

Kate McKinley, Scribe Reporter

Each year, cheerleading teams are placed into a sectional and have to earn a top 5 spot to move on. This means they have one chance, a 3-minute routine, to prove themselves worthy of a state qualification. This year, Schaumburg placed third at their sectional, after placing second in Conference, and advanced to the ISHA state tournament at Illinois State University on Feburary 7-8.

At the state tournament, the Saxons placed 22nd, where they scored 82.09 and met their team goal with zero deductions. 

While I’m very proud of the places our team earned, I am most proud of the culture they built,” stated varsity coach Whitney Gbur. “Obstacles that used to throw off a team seemed miniscule in the grand scheme of things. Every challenge I gave them, they attacked together and succeeded.”

The journey to state began nearly ten months before the actual competition. Open gyms for potential cheerleaders began in April and continued throughout May. Athletes attend summer camps in June and July, with tryouts following in August. They then practice potential skills for the competition season in their homecoming routine. There is a second round of tryouts in October and choreography is set in November.

An initial and unexpected change was when a few team members decided to leave between sideline and competitive season. The team that stayed, however, and built an incredibly tight bond. In December, basketball and competitions began. 

According to Gbur, at the beginning of the season, the team did fully comprehend how much potential they had. When they placed in the top five at their first competition, the momentum picked up. Then, each week they saw how much better they could do and by the end of the season, they hit two routines without a single skill reduction. 

After placing third, they moved on to State Prelims where the top ten teams advanced to state finals. Throughout the season, there were many challenges the team faced and conquered. They made all their decisions based on what was best for the team. They also created a culture that ensured each athlete knew their value in the team and were made to feel valued by their peers. Tough conversations were made easier because of the team’s value of accountability. 

“Tough conversations were also easier because they valued accountability,” Coach Gbur said,  “The tough conversations don’t alway feel good to the individual, but it’s Schaumburg getting called at awards, not someone’s name.  We all win or we all don’t.”

Coach Gbur mentioned several athletes who deserve recognition for exceeding expectations. Trever Baynes, the only male on the team, added skill diversity. 

“I can only imagine how tough this could be at times, but Trever invested in the team and put up with all of our rhinestones, bows, and sparkles,” joked Gbur. 

The three senior captains Jess Niemiec, Deja Patterson and Emme Olsen played an integral role both on and off the floor, putting in behind the scenes work that helped with communication and leadership.

 “The legacy they are leaving is an amazing one for us to continue living up to,” Gbur added. 

This season has set the standard for all future teams. The team learned about the importance of truly living the five core values they decided on as a team to achieve their goals. Each team member knew what they were and the corresponding expectation that the values are upheld in and outside of cheer. If people want to know what the Schaumburg cheer family is like, they are specter to buy in. Looking forward, they have already begun the planning process for next year and are excited to get back in the gym this spring. They are meeting with the feeder programs to ensure future athletes are set up for success.

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