Imagine a gymnasium filled with the energy of multiple cheer teams, parents who are dressed in orange and black, holding up crazy signs and chanting and yelling -- that was the experience for the Dickinson High School Cheer Team when they competed at the fall state cheer competition at Fargo.
When all the stats were tabulated, the DHS Varsity Cheer Team emerged with another state title for the team routine. The Varsity and Junior Varsity team combined placed second in the Time-out division.
“I’m obviously super proud of them,” said coach Audrey Lenz. “It’s great to see how this team has brought the name of cheering to Dickinson with its successes over the last few years.”
In the individual events, two girls placed in the All Around. Lexi Lefor took third while Teandra Schneider claimed the state title of champion in the All Around.
This year, two DHS girls also participated in the final round of the Jump Off -- Jennifer Brown and Teandra Schneider. Teandra also claimed the state title of Jump Off champion.
The team also had two seniors who received the Senior Athlete Award -- Madeleine Billings and CaSarah Vannatta.
The competition was sponsored by the North Dakota Cheer Coaches Association Nov. 10 at Fargo North. The teams competed in the Class A division.
The DHS Cheer Team coaches are Audrey Lenz, Cebe Schneider, Dakia Schneider and Kayla Logan.They have fostered a legacy of winning state titles.
“In the last five seasons, we’ve gotten four firsts and a second place,” Schneider said. “And when we competed at nationals, we took fourth place.”
Schneider compared the wins to a puzzle: “You wouldn't believe all the pieces it actually takes -- it isn’t just the girls’ efforts or the coaches, we have an amazing athletic director -- Guy Fridley. Our administration is so supportive, our teaching staff is supportive, and our parents are just unbelievably awesome.”
During preparations, she tells how the parents decorate the bus, make signs for the girls’ rooms, prepare snacks, gift bags and love notes for the girls.
“It’s that whole family environment -- this cheer mom will take pictures, this cheer mom will do make up, this one does hair, others bring breakfast to the rooms to support a calm start to the day. They help us focus our minds. This year was super special because seniors from last year who graduated…. came to the night before and participated with us.”
Schneider’s daughter, Teandra is on the team, but Cebe considers the whole team as her kids.
“Honestly what made me the most proud at the competition was the judges told us as coaches that our team has an impressive amount of sportsmanship,” she said.
Audrey Lenz has been coaching for the past 11 years. “It keeps me young. I have a real passion for working with youth -- it’s a way to work with young kids, hopefully making a difference in their lives,” she said.
And just as Schneider spoke of the administration and parents for their support, Lenz added leadership of the girls, and in particular, Madeleine Billings as captain and Teandra as squad leader.
“We as coaches can only do so much to teach them their skills and encourage them … that’s where it’s important for leaders to step up, because we at that point are out of the picture and become bystanders.”
Speaking of cheer as a sport, she added, “People are looking up to you .. you’re always a constant role model. Being a cheerleader, you are front and center at games, in front of a crowd. Cheering teaches girls never to give up. When learning a difficult stunt, you learn not to give up, you pass that wall and trust one another and work together until that goal is achieved.”
The DHS Cheer Team has completed auditions for the winter season and has started practice for basketball. The team also will begin preparing for national competition in February of 2020 --that means competing and placing high enough at the regional level to earn an invitation to nationals.
Junior Varsity team