NEW PORT RICHEY — Most of us think of scorpions as an eight-legged animal with a long, venomous tail. To a group of local third-grade cheerleaders, the scorpion was one of the keys that propelled them to become national champions last weekend.
A scorpion is accomplished when a flyer is lifted into the air and balances on one foot while the other foot is held over her head. Remaining still is critical to the squad’s success.
The American Open, held in Orlando, consisted of nearly 500 cheerleading teams and covered all ages and levels of competition. One of the 15-member teams that competed in the Youth, Level One category for young, beginning athletes trained locally at BAAM Athletics.
Paige Webb, 9, is a flyer who attends Chasco Elementary and began cheerleading when she was four.
“My first memory was seeing cheerleaders doing flips and cartwheels at a college football game on TV,” Webb said. “That was for me. It’s exciting when I’m performing, because everyone is clapping and screaming.”
Teammate Keirra Eich, 9, is a base who began taking gymnastics, but liked tumbling and cheering better.
“The best part of being a base is for the flyers to know that I’m strong enough to lift them and hold them up for the whole routine,” said Webb, a Hudson Elementary student. “They believe in me. We practiced three to four times each week for the past six months. All of the work paid off by winning the national championship.”
Kyla Giguere, 8, has cheered at other local clubs and at the Police Athletic League.
“Teamwork is important, because if you don’t work together, none of the routines will work,” Giguere said.
The three are close friends and call themselves “The Three Musketeers.”
At the competition, the top three teams were called to the stage. When the third- and second-place winners were announced, the BAAM team celebrated and hugged each other.
“We knew we had accomplished what we went there to do,” Eich said.
Correspondent Cliff Gill can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @ReporterCliff.