By Will LeBlond
History will be made on Feb. 10.
That is when Dryden High School will host the 2018 IAC Cheerleading Championships with 12 other schools set to send a varsity team to the event. While the host, the Purple Lions, are the defending IAC and Section IV champions, Candor, Lansing, Groton, Watkins Glen, Waverly, Whitney Point, Thomas A. Edison, Marathon, Moravia, Newark Valley, Odessa-Montour and Spencer-Van Etten will all be looking to knock them off.
While Dryden will have a different look this time around with longtime head coach Alisha Scheffler helping out with volunteer duties for the team, as Kaitlyn Martin has taken over head coaching duties, they’ll still look to defend their crown in what should be an entertaining day.
“It’s absolutely amazing,” said Scheffler, who is also the IAC Cheer Coaches Coordinator, on the atmosphere. “There’s super high energy, a lot of nerves, a lot of stress, but for the most part, the kids just enjoy what they do. It’s amazing how much detail and excitement goes into the day.”
The teams will have a few chances to qualify for the sectional event as well with a couple changes to the system.
“This year, we’re seeing a significant change in the categories,” said Scheffler. “There’s three categories now to compete in. Small, large and co-ed. In the past, we’ve had so few in the large and co-ed divisions. Now, the top-three finishers in each category will go onto sectionals, so we should have nine schools go on from this event.”
The new system shows that growth is coming for cheerleading in the area, which is also reflected all around the state. A few years ago, cheerleading was legalized as an official sport, which sent a ripple effect throughout the sport. Some teams had to drop their varsity programs because the raised level of certification needed to coach proved to be too much for some.
Expensive courses and certifications were needed for coaches to continue their duties and some were unable to do it. Now, varsity programs are starting to bounce back and 13 schools in the IAC Championships this year shows that it can only get better locally.
“It’s about average,” said Scheffler on how many teams will take part in the event. “It shrunk quite significantly when cheer was legalized as a sport in our state But since then, a lot of teams have built themselves back up. We’re adding each year, even if it’s only one or two teams coming back to competitive cheer each year.”
The 43rd annual IAC Cheerleading Championships at Dryden High School on Saturday, Feb. 10 will get going at 9 a.m. when the doors will open to the public before the competition, which is expected to start at 10:30 a.m.