With a new attitude and renewed spunk, D'Iberville's cheer team recently took the Nationals by storm.
This past weekend the Warriors came home from the National High School Cheerleading Championship at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., on top -- a first in school history after winning the Medium Varsity Game Day Division.
"The girls looked like they were having fun. A lot of other teams were going through the motions and were very good with very skilled and clean routines, but you could tell our girls wanted to win and enjoyed what they were doing," first-year coach Kristi Roberts said. "I really think that's what set them apart from everybody else."
Roberts said the Game Day Division is a throwback of sorts, which is where D'Iberville excels. Where cheerleading as a whole has perhaps become more about entertainment and dancing, the division is founded in the sport's roots.
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"A lot of schools and a lot of girls are not really in tune with what it means to actually read the crowd and be supportive for your teams and involve the community," Roberts said. "That's what 'Game Day' is. You still get competition and it is difficult, but it's a lot different. You're doing your more traditional cheerleading rather than the competitive stuff.
"They're wanting to see what is unique to you and your school but it all comes down to being perfect basically."
Roberts was brought on to lead D'Iberville's program this summer and felt early on her team would do well in the division. All it took was a little work and plenty of spirit.
"Their strength was being involved at the ball games and crowd leading," she said. "They wanted to compete this year so I took the best of what I had to offer and the best of what they had to offer and put it together in this division. I really think that's what made it successful. We weren't trying to do things out of our range or force things. We were just combining the best we have to offer all together.
"Once we got started, I knew there was huge potential and everything started clicking."
At Disney, there was no stopping the Warriors. Other teams and the judges took notice.
"It was almost like they had flipped a switch and had a little chip on their shoulder," Roberts said. "They wanted to show everyone that they could win. I think people had doubted them in the past."
Even now that a week has passed, D'Iberville's accomplishment still hasn't quite sunk in.
"They couldn't even believe it. I think they're still trying to process the information. It was proof that if you do work hard there's a reward there," Roberts said. "Once they started gaining that confidence in themselves the sky was the limit and we came home with a national title. It was fun to be a part of it this year."
Harrison Central, Ocean Springs
D'Iberville wasn't the only Coast program that stood out this past weekend. Harrison Central placed fourth in the World School Medium Coed Division and Ocean Springs was a semifinalist in the Super Varsity Division I, finishing 10th out of 28 schools.
"It was definitely an accomplishment but we expect to do better next year," HCHS coach Raven Dedeaux said. "It was a very good routine. A lot of odds were against them this year as a team but they came together. It was a rush."