ORLANDO, FL- Sparta High School Cheerleaders participated in the University Cheerleaders Association National High School Cheerleading Championship from Feb 6 to10 in Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. The competition was televised on ESPN and ESPN2.
The team competed in two categories this year; All Girls Medium Varsity Division II and Game Day. The Medium Varsity event was first on their schedule. While they placed 11 out of a field of 16, the level of competition was so rigorous that they missed moving to the semifinals by a mere 1.8 points.
Next Sparta took third place in the Game Day competition. It was a new event that simulated a game atmosphere. The squad performed a combination of three routines based on football game scenarios.
Coach Michelle Hertzberg said, " It was an overall great weekend with a lot of team bonding and accomplishments. We are very proud of the team and the improvements and strides we have made in our second consecutive year back at UCA nationals."
They received their bid to perform at the UCA event at the end of December. The Sparta High School Elite team almost did not have the opportunity to compete, however. The first qualifying event in Toms River fell on the same day as the varsity football team's first championship playoff game. The cheer squad felt the football game should be their priority. There was a snowstorm on the day of the next qualifying event, preventing them from attending. Finally they were able to submit a video tape of their routines. While not the ideal conditions, the team performed well enough to secure a competition slot.
To raise the funds to defray the costs of the trip, the Sparta High School Cheerleading Booster Club hosted the Sparta Snowball Cheerleading Competition in early Jan. Teams from schools in Bergen, Hunterdon, Morris, Passaic and Sussex counties and Delaware Valley, PA competed cheer and dance routines.
This year's varsity squad had 23 students. Former Sparta graduates are currently cheering at Northeastern University, Villanova University, Monmouth University and Rowan University.
The routines and final results can be seen at UCA.varsity.com.