V-I-C-T-O-R-Y: Senior Flyer Sophia Dominguez, cheers as her team successfully performs their stunts during the 2023 National Championships. This competition would lead the team into winning their consecutive second place in the nation title. Photo courtesy of Danielle Culbertson
By: Savannah Anselmo, Natalie Childers, Mariana De Jesus
After countless hours of dedication, perseverance, and hard work, the West Broward Competitive Cheerleading team has sustained their incredibly successful legacy on campus. Alongside their perfect routines and eye-catching stunts, the team’s victory throughout the season has allowed them to receive well-deserved recognitions such as being back-to-back State competition champions, placing second in the entire nation, and receiving a proclamation from Mayor Ortis and the City of Pembroke Pines Commissioners.
The team worked to perfect their routine for months before entering the competitive season. After attending the 2023 Competitive cheerleading Championship in Gainesville, Florida on Feb. 4, the team successfully became the 2023 2A Medium Non-Tumbling state champions after earning a score of 90.1 in the competition. The team has successfully held the title of being 6x State Champions. The road to the National Competition initiated shortly after they swept their
State Title. From Feb. 10-12, the team competed at the 2023 UCA National Competition at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando Florida where they would earn their esteemed second in the Nation title. The team can look back on their accomplishments knowing that they put their hearts out on the mat and gave each competition everything they had.
“Looking back on the season, it was very exciting. We did a lot of team bonding and I think we really came together as a family this year and they all just, they really loved each other,” said head coach Danielle Culbertson. “This season, the difficulty level that we had was unreal, something that West Broward has never seen. We were beyond proud of the stunts that they were able to do this season. There are different categories of difficulty and we went from hitting the 2nd and 3rd category normally to hitting the highest category and maxing out the score sheets.”
To be reigning state champions and national runner ups, year-round preparation is essential. The team attends up to 5 practices per week where they perfect their competition routines. The team goes through their stunts, pyramids and every second of what they will be performing for the judges when the adrenaline filled competition day comes. They work to not only improve themselves, but also push one another to reach the shared goal of winning.
“I think a big thing for us this year was just to really hold each other accountable, making sure we came to practice, making sure we got there on time, and that I think that we all made sacrifices,” said senior co-captain Izabella Garcia. “We really showed each other how much we wanted this in order to push each other to do our best.”
The team competes in several competitions where they have to score the minimum requirement to compete in Nationals. The goal for their performances is ‘hitting zero’ which is when there are no mistakes or falls in a routine, a difficult challenge due to the demanding stunts they perform on the mat. They successfully earned first at districts and second at regional competitions. The energy was high when states came around with the team’s goal of defending their back-to-back champion title. After months of training and preparation they were victorious and won first in the entire state.
“It takes a lot of effort from everyone to succeed. At the end of the day, everyone has to want it in order to win,” said senior flier Liberty Mongera. “We had to overcome a lot of obstacles, whether it was new skills or an opponent, but the hard times only made us stronger.”
Finishing the season off, the team spent their time preparing for Nationals. With a fall at almost all their competitions, they finally hit zero falls and perfected their routine on the spot, exceeding their coaches expectations. After winning first in the state and second in the nation during the 2022 competition, the team was persistent in achieving a higher score at the 2023 competition. The team successfully accomplished this goal after raising their score to 90. Although they
unfortunately were not able to achieve their goal of placing first in the nation, the resilient team is hopeful and encouraged for the 2024 competitive season.
“We didn’t get the outcome we wanted, but I wouldn’t have traded any of it because we put out the best routine and the hardest routine that this program has ever seen,” Garcia said. “We performed the hardest skills and we ended up getting second in the nation and then second in the world.”
The 2023 season has helped the team realize where they need to improve to prepare for next year’s competitions and what they need to do to accomplish their goals. The coaches have shared their determination to make next year’s routine more challenging and push the cheerleaders to reach their score goals. Each year the cheerleaders grow their bond, trust, and skill. Creating a strong bond with each other plays a big role in their success as they step on the mat together to compete. The hard work performed by the returning players will carry into next year’s success, along with the motivation from the determined coaches who diligently inspire their team members and guide them to success.
“We remind the team of the talent that they have and really let them know that this is for fun. We do this to have fun and the winning is a celebration after, but as long as they enjoy themselves, that’s what we’re here for,” Culbertson said. “I think they see how much we as coaches love the sport and how much time that we put into it. I think it trickles out to the ones that don’t have the same feelings and motivates them.”