You can argue if it’s a sport or not but competitive cheerleading has certainly found its home in southern West Virginia.
At the high school level, Logan and Tug Valley have brought home recent state championships and always put on a good show.
Both squads always seem to have a competitive edge.
But where does that edge come from?
It comes from a lot of dedication, hard work and experience.
Some of those future area high school cheerleaders are getting that experience at the youth level.
And there’s probably no better youth cheerleading group than the Cheeriffic All-Stars’ Tinys and the Minis.
The two Logan-based groups proved that point recently by winning two U.S. Finals Cheerleading and Dance national championships in Orlando, Fla.
Both squads were national champions.
The Tinys and the Minis, which operate out of the Flip and Twist Gym in downtown Logan, have flown under the radar for years but no longer.
Soon, the two cheerleading squads will be honored with full-sized billboards in the Logan area to commemorate their accomplishments.
Winning the two U.S. championships is still sinking in.
“We were very excited,” said Tinys and Minis coach Heather Bryant. “The girls were very excited and we were very pleased with them. For a little town like Logan to win first it was amazing. It was a dream come true.”
Both Cheeriffic squads had to qualify to make it to Orlando.
It wasn’t easy.
“You have to go to various cheerleading competitions to qualify to get to go to the U.S. finals in one of seven different locations,” Bryant said. “Our Tinys placed first and our Minis placed first. After the seven they put all of the teams together and they rank them. The Tinys were ranked first out of 44 teams in the nation. The Minis were ranked first out of 23 teams, putting them first in the nation. This was a huge honor.”
Back in April when the competition was held at Orlando’s Silver Spurs Arena, both the Tinys and the Minis were in first place.
However, some time had passed before the official rankings were posted and made public.
When those came out, both were indeed first and national champions.
The Tinys, also affectionally known as the “Sparkles,” won its “Tiny Cheer” national title by besting 43 other squads. Some of those teams came from such places as Las Vegas, California, Virginia Beach, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Louisiana, Maryland, Arkansas, Kentucky and Ohio.
The Tinys also toppled the two other West Virginia squads — Fairmont’s Fusion 5 All-Stars, which were ninth and Morgantown’s CTA High Flyers, which placed 32nd.
The Cheeriffic’s Minis, also known as the “Divas,” won the “Mini Cheer” division by beating out 21 other squads from around the nation. The Minis beat squads from California, Louisiana, Alabama, Illinois, Delaware, Kentucky, New York, Maryland, Kentucky, Pennsylvania, Florida and Ohio.
“We were very excited to win it when we saw the rankings come out,” Bryant said. “We were overwhelmed and we couldn’t believe it.”
Winning the two national crowns in Florida ended a long and successful road for the Tinys and the Minis.
It all began in Pittsburgh, were both squads won in a competition held in the Steel City.
Both squads then went on to the Jamfest Nationals in Gatlinburg, Tenn., and each won titles there and received championship jackets.
Then it was on to the Jamfest Cheer Super Nationals in Indianapolis as the Minis won first place and also received jackets. The squad was also declared the Level 2 champions, scoring the highest points of any group. The Tinys did not compete in the event.
From there, the Tinys and the Minis went to Jamfest Live in Cincinnati and both were winners in that competition. The Minis were again declared as the Level 2 champions.
Lastly, the squads went to Charleston and each took titles there before going to Orlando and bringing home the gold. The Minis were declared the Grand Champions at Charleston with the highest score.
The Tinys are for girls ages 4-6, while the Minis are 7-9.
The girls put in long hours at the gym crafting their dance routines and moves and refining their gymnastics techniques, Bryant said.
“They dedicate every Friday, Saturday and Sunday,” she said. “Rain, snow or shine. Every weekend. They make a lot of sacrifices. They are giving up two hours each every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.”