Cade cheerleaders make nationals

The Cade Middle School cheerleaders say hours of practice and calming their nerves were the biggest things that helped them clinch the American Cheerpower National Championship title.
  • CADE MIDDLE SCHOOL CHEERLEADERS

    Anna Ashley Spence

    Tara Marler

    Courtney Magill

    Sophia Montemayor

    Campbell Mercer

    Carson Caton

    Emily Richter

    Brenna Sestak

    Kerrah Henneke

    Carrah Mooney

    Saige ...

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  • CADE MIDDLE SCHOOL CHEERLEADERS

    Anna Ashley Spence

    Tara Marler

    Courtney Magill

    Sophia Montemayor

    Campbell Mercer

    Carson Caton

    Emily Richter

    Brenna Sestak

    Kerrah Henneke

    Carrah Mooney

    Saige McLarty

    Alexis Bartlett

    Robin Johnston

    Erin Hildebrandt

    Odalys Garduno

    Kayci Sheldrup

    Sophia Broughton

    Coach: Denise Neel

The stunts were done, the dances mastered and the dogs were loose.

Cade Middle School bulldogs cheerleaders that is.

The spirited 17-member squad didn't let their underdog status keep them from winning a national title from the American Cheerpower National Championship last month.

The girls outscored more than 30 other teams, including larger squads from all over Texas, to clinch the title.

"We're all very happy, and it's sad to know that other people have lost, but it's a very great overcoming thing for us to do, and we're very proud of that," said Kayci Sheldrup, a sixth-grader on the team.

The girls competed in San Antonio Feb. 11 with a mix of dance and stunt routines.

Nerves got the better of some, they say, but the cheers have helped them become accustomed to the new school and traditions.

"It was really scary for me, because I didn't know what to expect," said Tara Marler, an eighth-grader who came from Howell Middle School. "But because of the cheerleader thing, I really started to like it."

Crafting school traditions can be tough, said Denise Neel a 21-year cheer coach who took the Cade team to nationals, but the bulldog mascot makes the task easier.

"We have a great mascot - a bulldog is a great mascot that you can have a lot of fun with," she said.

The girls previously won top awards at Universal Cheerleaders Association camp at the University of Texas in the summer, first in their division at the UCA regional competition in November and the state competition in January.

The team believes they've set the bar high for other squads to follow.

"Twenty years from now, other people will look back and say, 'Oh look the first cheerleaders. They made it all the way to the championship. What a great school,'" Kayci said.

"You can't ask for anything better than that," Neel said. "It sets a precedent, and now we have that standard to live up to in the future."