For the first time in over 10 years, the Avon High School cheer team had the opportunity to show off their skill set on a national stage. Between Feb. 7 and Feb. 9, the Eagles competed at the National High School Cheerleading Championships in the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
Going up against thousands of teams from across the country, the Eagles didn’t let that opportunity go to waste as they finished 15th in both competitions they took part in – game day and traditional cheering.
Avon coach Marisa Mahilo, who went to the same national competition as a student in the 2012-13 season with Elyria Catholic, wanted to give Avon the same experience. With the support of the school and community, the team raised $20,500 – surpassing its initial goal of $17,000 – and was able to pay for the whole team’s trip.
“It was surreal,” Mahilo said of the trip. “We were so honored to be there and to compete against people in the entire nation. We definitely learned a lot from the national competition because it was our first time and I think we know how to improve for next time we go and how to get a higher placement.”
Outside of the competition, the teams also had the chance to spend time in the Disney parks. The combination of that and the excitement of cheering nationally really brought the team together.
“The girls and I had an awesome time,” Mahilo said. “I was really proud of them, they were really proud of themselves and, in the end, I think that’s really all that matters. Having the community support behind us meant the world to us as well. (The best part was) getting closer as a team. We spent five days together and the girls really, really bonded and I bonded with the girls. It made us really excited for the future of this team as well.”
The Eagles will graduate four seniors after this season and could have as many as 11 returners next year. With so much talent coming back and getting this experience when they did, Mahilo is confident this will not be the last time Avon tastes national competition.
“I think this team has paved the way for something awesome,” Mahilo said. “I think our goal is going to be to go to nationals every other year and use the year in between as a building year. We can just continue to get better so the next time we go to nationals if we’re lucky enough to make it again, I think the building year in between will be very helpful for us.”
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