Practice, practice and more practice

Sunday, July 22, 2007 | 12:35 a.m. CDT; updated 5:07 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008
Caroline Brumfield, right, and her teammates on the Jefferson Junior High basketball cheerleading squad practice with a buddy team from Hallsville.

Junior high and high school cheerleading squads from all over the state challenged themselves and their skills at the National Cheerleading Association summer cheerleading camp at the University of Missouri Student Recreation Center last week. Volunteers from the NCA served as mentors and judges for the camp. The cheerleaders were judged on the quality of their jumps, the quality of their spiriting or tumbling, enthusiasm, memorization and accuracy. The basketball and football squads from Jefferson Junior High School were the only teams from Columbia at the camp. Some of the girls on the team just joined and are still learning how to be cheerleaders. “This is where they learn the basics and then we go from there,” said coach Jill Villasana, who has been coaching the Jefferson team for six years. Villasana prefers to send the girls to camps where the girls are on the low end of the experience spectrum so they see that their goals are attainable. Also, at camp the girls have more down time to be together as a team and develop more of a social bond and get to know each other better.

Tara Baker and McKenzie Price practice a cheer while waiting for the judges’ evaluations.
The Jefferson football squad adds their “superior” ribbons to others in their hair. “Superior” is the highest award possible, crediting the squad for significant improvement over their prior performances during the week.
During the champion chant competition NCA staff members judge performances from a perch above the cheerleaders. According to Jefferson Jr. High coach Jill Villanasa, the younger girls really look up to the older, more experienced NCA staff members.
During the champion chant competition, the girls perform the cheer they worked on throughout the week for all the other squads.
On the last day of camp, teams are awarded trophies for their performances in the final competition champion chant—the only time in the week when teams compete against each other rather than challenge themselves to improve.
Teams from across the state fill basketball courts at the Rec Center, working on their skills.
Robert Hanley, an NCA staffer, leads the group in spirit exercises.
During the Wednesday afternoon team evaluations, the Jefferson football squad shows their stuff.
McKenzie Price, far left, Caroline Brumfield, Sarah Kaplan and Tara Baker cheer along with hundreds of others during a group spiriting activity led by their camp leaders.
Along with many of the girls on her team, Paige Shipman shows her Cyclone spirit with fun accessories during the daytime events on Wednesday.
Lily Smith strikes a pose as the girls play around during buddy practice.

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