Pratt High and Skyline cheer squads will both be attending a KSHSAA-sponsored competition in Topeka this weekend.

The Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) in conjunction with Varsity Spirit is proud to announce its newest statewide competition for high school students, KSHSAA Spirit Gameday Showcase.

Cheer squads from throughout the state will fill the Kansas Expocentre in Topeka on Saturday, Nov. 18th.Eighty-seven schools have entered into the showcase on a first come, first serve basis with representation from all six current classifications.

Among those schools are both of the local preps, Pratt High and Skyline.

 The 2017 KSHSAA Game Day Spirit Showcase Competition will be an exciting event for KSHSAA member school cheer squads to perform and compete with other school cheer squads from within their classification.

The Varsity Spirit “Game Day” format was chosen by the KSHSAA as a way to exemplify cheerleading in 21st century high schools. The exhilaration of leading a crowd through sideline cheer is what the competition demonstrates.

In preparing for the showcase, cheer squads will improve their sideline skills, safety techniques, and leadership abilities. These practices validate the importance of an outstanding high school cheerleading squad.

 “The KSHSAA is excited to conduct this inaugural cheerleading showcase event and provide an opportunity for hundreds of Kansas high school students who choose cheerleading as their primary activity. We look forward to an exciting day of cheerleading competition,” said Gary Musselman, KSHSAA Executive Director.

 “It is Varsity Spirit’s honor and privilege to partner with the KSHSAA in facilitating the first-ever Game Day Spirit Showcase Competition. The event will provide an unforgettable experience for those participating and the Game Day format encourages important collaboration between student groups in the effort of school spirit, which greatly impacts the culture of a school,” said Jamie Graham, Southwest Region Manager for Varsity Spirit.

Since its founding in 1974 by Jeff Webb, Varsity has been the driving force in making cheerleading the dynamic, athletic, high profile activity it is today.

By combining high energy entertainment with traditional school leadership, Webb and his organization have driven the development of an international phenomenon that now not only includes millions of young Americans, but also a rapidly growing number of participants worldwide.

 A full Saturday of competition will begin at 8:30 a.m. Cheer squads will complete three different categories in the preliminary rounds: Crowd Leading, Fight Song and Band Dance. Judges will then determine which squads will move to the finals to compete where each team will showcase its best sideline and crowd leading material in a game day presentation that will include an announcer-led situational game day element. More information and a complete schedule can be found online at http://www.kshsaa.org/Public/Spirit/GameDay.cfm.

In Crowd Leading, the squads enter the competition area, do a cheer and try to connect with the crowd.  “The girls have to really work to catch the attention of the crowd and get them involved,” explained Pratt High cheer sponsor Susan Pixler. “ All through the competition the rubric requires synchronization of motions, visual appeal, and motion technique as well.”

“Fight Song requires that we perform our fight song to a recording we provide from our marching band,” Pixler continued. “We only have a minute and our school song is longer than that, so we’ve had to clip off the end. We’ll be judged on execution and crowd and visual appeal.”

“For the Band Dance portion, we are using Land of 1000 Dances recorded by the PHS band,” Pixler added. “We have worked to make it as visually appealing as we can and this is probably the component we are most confident about at this time.”

Skyline’s cheerleaders are also doing Land of 1000 Dances for their band dance portion. “I think the girls are the most confident with the band dance portion because they really love the “Land of 1000 Dances” routine andhave a lot of fun with it and truly enjoy that part,” SHS cheer sponsor Kim Lee mentioned. 

“It’s so good for the squad to get their own competition,” Lee continued. “They have spent all of their time supporting other activities and it’s good for them to be in the spotlight this time. They have all been very dedicated to the process of preparing for this competition even though we represent a multitude of other sports and activities. We are also preparing to perform at Walt Disney World with the band the week of December 17th-22nd so these 6 girls have shown a great amount of dedication through both their time and all of their fundraising efforts.” 

In each classification, the top 6 schools in prelims will advance to finals in which the squads will be expected to extemporize appropriate cheers according to game situations described by a PA announcer, in addition to reprising their preliminary performances.

Coach Pixler of PHS was excited that KSHSAA has established an official competition for cheering. “The most official recognition we’ve been able to get is helping PHS win the Sportsmanship Award at State basketball,” she said.  “Cheering for our teams is always very rewarding and obviously the girls love it.  It’s a very special feeling to get the crowd to cheer along with you and impact the team in a positive way by helping everyone show their support.”

Pratt High is blending their fall and winter cheer squads for the KSHSAA competition, so there has been a learning curve as the girls learn to work with one another.  But the Greenback cheerleaders are definitely looking forward to the competition.” I’m nervous to compete but excited to share the experience with my squad,” Savana Larrison said. “It will give us the opportunity to be part of something bigger and give us feedback.” 

“I am super excited for the Game Day Competition,” Mallary Nelson added. “It will be a new experience for us as a squad but I think it will be really fun. Of course I’m a little nervous, but we have really improved and I’m confident in us!”

On Thursday November 18, the Pratt High cheer squad will be doing a demonstration of their preliminary events at 7 p.m. in the PHS gym. The public is invited to attend.