Hickory Creek Middle School’s cheer team accomplished a feat truly worth cheering on Jan. 12 at the Illinois Elementary School Association’s 2019 Cheerleading State Championship at the Peoria Civic Center.
The team placed first in the state in the large team routine cheerleading division for the fourth consecutive year. This year, the team received a score of 85.07, the best out of all other schools competing in the division.
A total of 22 girls from sixth-, seventh- and eighth-grades at Hickory Creek compose the team and spent countless hours since mid-September practicing.
The team meets every day before or after school and even puts in hours during weekends and breaks to stretch, tumble, and memorize cheers and movements. Team members also perform during home conference games for girls and boys basketball, and at school assemblies.
During all of this practicing and performing, the girls keep school their main priority and find balance to be the best student-athletes they can be, according to their coaches, Lauren Cibella and Ellen Hogan.
The coaches said cheerleading has the longest season of all sports at Hickory Creek, and team members work together to develop the best competitive routine possible during their time together.
Prior to the state championship, the cheerleaders participated in two competitions in December. At Midwest Cheer Fest at Carl Sandburg High School, the team was awarded first place and was named grand champion in the Large Routine Division. At Joliet West Cheer Fest, the team was awarded second place in the Large Routine Division.
This year’s routine included upbeat, positive music and focused on the drive to maintain the legacy of being reigning state champions.
This was Cibella and Hogan’s first year coaching the cheer team at Hickory Creek, following the legacy of past coach Tania Wilson, who led the team through its previous three consecutive state title journeys.
They said they were determined to continue the great success that Wilson achieved, and being able to do so was humbling and exciting.
Hickory Creek Principal Will Seidelmann said Cibella and Hogan are amazing professionals and coaches who put in many hours of work with the cheerleaders, other coaches and choreographers, serving as dedicated role models for the girls.
Seidelmann added that Hogan continued a tradition Wilson started of writing a poem for the girls and reading it to them prior to the competition.