Three state titles for DHS cheer team — hip hip hoorah!
Dickinson High School's cheer squad's resilience and teamwork led to victory at the state championships in Bismarck over the weekend.
DICKINSON — Dickinson High School's cheer team has demonstrated that it's not about when you show up, but how you show up, after taking home three state titles in Bismarck despite missing the opening ceremony due to weather conditions. The team's unwavering sense of family and faith kept their spirits high and nerves low, leading to their success. They took first in the timeout large division, with a score of 126; the cheer dance routine in the small division, with a score of 409; and co-captain cheerleader Xeia Schneider won the individual all-around.
With a strong focus on leadership and camaraderie, the DHS cheer team proved that a strong team dynamic is the key to victory, both on and off the mat.
“If you are going to compete, you have to compete as a team and as a family,”Gracie Davidson said. “I think that is what makes us so successful, because we are all each other's sisters and we do it for each other.”
Out of 22 cheerleaders, only four of them are upperclassmen, but a strong push towards leadership has seen squad members of all grade levels practice encouragement of one another.
Davidson is a sophomore and has already been with the program for three years. In that time, she has taken full advantage of working alongside her seniors to possess the qualities that could see her captain the squad in the future.
“Every single season we always start back from the basics,” Davidson said. “Doing smaller skills and building our way back up and I think that has a huge impact on how some of the girls learn and getting to be able to work with some of the more experienced girls on the team. Being able to be part of that and going through it all together.”
Currently the team is co-captained by senior Isabella Brown and junior Xeia Schneider. Brown's talents and mental strength garnered her a third place finish in the all-around and her five years of experience provided wisdom for her younger teammates, playing a pivotal role in calming the team down when they were running late for the competition.
“We definitely had a few challenges, meaning that we had to leave a little later and missed the parade of athletes. It was very stressful on the girls and I could tell that, so what I did as a leader was calm them down a bit and try to help guide their way of thinking,” Brown said. “Half of the team is mostly new, this is their first year cheering … I knew how I needed to step up and give these girls what they deserve and I just really wanted to be a leader that they will remember for the rest of their lives.”
Xeia Schneider, was promoted to co-captain the day before the state competition, a role that was well deserving, not only in her talents but her grasp of knowledge and the time she has spent with the DHS cheer team — being the daughter of head co-coach Cebe Schneider, who is also a Dickinson State’s cheerleader team head coach.
“My senior, Bella, got promoted a while ago and I was super happy that she did … She really deserve it with how great she is to our team and we work together as a duo, like a power duo,” Xeia Schneider said. “When I found out I got promoted I was super surprised because I wasn't expecting it until next year, but it was really great because I put a lot of time and effort and love into my team and it is great to get a title with it too.”
Xeia Schneider has cheering in her blood. Besides having her mother as a co–head coach, she was greatly motivated by her older sisters, Dakia, Kierra, Teandra, who were all part of the program and have achieved all-around accolades themselves in their careers. Nerves from Xeia Schneider began to boil over before their performance, but quickly evaporated during their teams’ prayer.
“I was very nervous, but I always have trust in my family,” Xeia Scheidner said. “I just have confidence in my team and overall know that it is going to be okay.”
Sydnie Dassinger is also their squad leader and played her role equally well to keep her team focused. When running late for the event, the interstate opening just in time, squad members helping one another fixing each others makeup while on the bus.
“The three of them worked really hard to just help make this year special for our team and I really appreciate the hard work and dedication they put in,” co- head coach Aubrey Lenz said. “We were a little bit late, we weren't there for the beginning of the comp, but the way the North Dakota Cheer Coach Association run their competition, they do such a good job of running it in a timely manner, so we were able to get there with plenty of time and they were willing to work with us. It all worked out well and we are very thankful for that.”
The DHS cheer team's accomplishments demonstrate that success is possible when teammates support one another like family. . Co-head coach Aubrey Lenz emphasized the importance of team chemistry, saying that it takes a team committed to one another to pull off wins.
“Teams can have really great and high-level skills, but it takes a team that really truly loves each other and is committed to one another to pull off wins I think,” Lenz said. “Because you are going out there doing it for each other, not just yourself and that team dynamic really comes from our leadership.”