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Competitive Cheerleading Continues to Grow at Williamsport as Team Excels

When head coach Stephanie Corter started to put the Williamsport Competitive Cheerleading team together three years ago, something happened for the first time since she started coaching.

She looked down at her list of participants and saw the name Nick Stevens on her roster. It was the first time she had ever encountered a male student wanting to join the team, but didn’t shy away from the challenge of incorporating him into the routine.

“Working with a male cheerleader for the first time was challenging,” Corter said. “I didn’t know a whole lot about coed stunting and really didn’t think I needed to know too much. I learned a lot over the last three years coaching Nick. He has taught me a lot and has grown into a huge asset for the team.”

Stevens and the rest of the squad recently earned a gold medal at the District IV Competitive Cheer Championships coed division, advancing into the State Championship competition in Hershey. They competed in the first day of states and reached higher ranks than any other cheer team in Williamsport’s history.

Williamsport defeated Canton’s varsity team at the district competition. The team then spent the next week focusing on their routine and fine tuning all the jumps and moves they would be incorporating into it for States.

“Qualifying for States is a lot of preparation and stress but Districts is just as demanding because without winning Districts we wouldn’t go to States,” Corter said. “We have been practicing this routine and perfecting every move we could for months. We also prepare this routine not only for District and States but other competitions as well.”

Cheerleading practice isn’t simply working on a cheer and coordinating a small dance anymore. It’s hours of learning how to tumble, spot other cheerleaders, and being in top physical shape to pull off multiple moves throughout the course of a routine.

Most competitive cheerleaders and routines resemble gymnastics more than a traditional cheerleading squad.

“We practice two sometimes three days a week for two or three hours plus go to tumbling lessons on top of practices and schoolwork,” Corter said. “The rest of the Districts performance was just about spot on and winning Districts was a huge achievement for this team.”

Stevens was part of the performance and played an important role with one of the many stunts the team executed throughout the tournament at Districts. As rare as it is to have a male cheerleader on the high school team, the support for him wasn’t rare at all as the entire gym cheered when Stevens helped with the routine.

“I’m glad I got the opportunity to coach Nick and learn what I’ve learned so far to hopefully have more male cheerleaders in the future,” Corter said. “He plays a very important role on the team. Nick had no problem fitting in with the team and now everywhere we go to compete he makes more friends.”

The cheerleading season doesn’t end with States either. The team’s second competition of the season was the Jingle Bell Battle. It was the first time in Corter’s three seasons coaching the team she entered them in this particular tournament. The team did not disappoint.

They executed a nearly flawless routine on the way to being named the Grand Champion of the event. The group will head to the North American Spirit Tournament in Atlantic City, NJ in May thanks to the win.

“We performed one of our best routines and when the team came off the floor, they knew they did an amazing job just by the big smile I had on my face,” Corter said. “When they announced our name, the team and I couldn’t have been louder and prouder. We had not won a Grand Champion award in a few years. The team deserved to win with the routine they performed and all the hard work they put into the routine. It was definitely a great day to be a Millionaire.”

The Millionaire Competitive Cheerleading squad is starting to make a name for itself as the sport continues to grow in this area. Corter has put her stamp on the program in three years of coaching and the future looks bright as she continues to push the team to new heights.

“Winning Grand Champion at The Jingle Bell Battle in Harrisburg and our Districts win is the most memorable moment yet this season and I’m sure we’ll be able to add to that before this season is over,” Corter said. “For the team their moments are hitting their stunts and pyramids. That is most important to them. Having our male cheerleader has been an experience that I will never forget as he is the first male ever that Williamsport Area High School Competitive Cheer Team has had cheer and he has made this year’s routine fun and enjoyable.”

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