Grand Champions of Cheer
‘Twist and Shout’ Cheerleaders Compete Nationally
With a televised audience and competitors from around the world, several Edmond cheerleaders catapulted their way to victory at the World Championship Cheerleading Competition.
The event was held April 22-23 in Orlando, Fla. The Senior Co-Ed Team from Edmond’s Twist and Shout Gym placed fourth. They competed against cheerleaders from 25 countries, including Japan, China, New Zealand and England, and were featured on ESPN. Teams had to qualify and receive an invitation.
Cheerleading coach Orson Sykes said his team of 36 cheerleaders worked hard. They not only practiced tirelessly for the contest but also raised money for the trip within a one-month period.
“I was really proud of the way they put forth the effort to raise funds for the trip,” he said. “They held cheerleading clinics, car hopped and stuffed envelopes for Federal Express. I knew they were a good team and should be going but we didn’t know ‘til almost the last minute that we would be in the contest. Then they had to hustle to get the money.”
“Our parents at the gym are like a big family,” Sykes added. “Several of them made donations — even those whose kids were not part of the competition.” Several parents also made the trip to Florida to support the team, he said.
The Twist and Shout Senior Co-Ed Team is the most elite level team. They had already won “Grand Champions of the World Spirit Federation” and “Grand Champions of the Cheer Power National Championship” before going to the world competition.
The Twist and Shout Gym is in its 10th year of training cheerleaders from Edmond and surrounding areas.
“We have kids from Norman, Mustang and other towns around Oklahoma City. Some drive an hour and a half to come practice here because they know of our reputation,” Sykes said. “They practice four to five hours each time and they’re here two to three times a week. It requires an incredible amount of commitment.”
Students make the sacrifice to practice, yet they maintain good grades at school, he said. “Some of these kids are also involved in a lot of extracurricular activities at their high school as well as their high school cheerleading squads,” he said. “These cheerleaders sacrifice a lot to be in this type of sport. That’s what it truly is – a sport.”
Adriel Escow, a senior from Guthrie, is part of the Senior Co-Ed Team. He said he’s played a lot of sports, from football to soccer to track, but cheerleading has been the most demanding on his body. “It’s been the most challenging,” he said. “It’s very physically straining and you have to be very fit.”
Adriel said competing in Florida was like a dream. “I had to keep telling myself that I was really there,” he said. “It was also great to experience the bond that our team had. We’re all really close. We talk openly about issues we’re dealing with and pray for one another.”
Edmond cheerleader Angel Austin also competed in Florida. She said the experience added to the fullness of her senior year. “I’ve been part of a great squad at Santa Fe High and the student council president, too. It’s a lot to balance and I’ve had to learn how to prioritize,” she said. “The World Contest was a fun trip and it was neat to see the friendships we have. We made a lot of new friends from all over.”