By Tommy Keeler Jr.
EDINBURG -- Angela Hoover wanted to make sure every girl in the area had a chance to be a cheerleader year-round. So, a little over two years ago she formed the Shenandoah Cheer League and it's already been a success.
Next week the Shenandoah Cheer competitive squad will compete in the U.S. Finals in Virginia Beach.
"This is the Super Bowl, the World Series of cheerleading," Hoover said earlier this week before practice.
It is the first year Shenandoah Cheer has had a competitive squad, and there will be 14 girls headed to Virginia Beach on May 2-4 to compete.
The girls are mostly from Shenandoah County, but Hoover, who is the head cheer coach of the competitive squad, said that anyone from the area is welcome to join Shenandoah Cheer.
There is also a performance team, which mostly just does parades and other events throughout the area, mostly for fun.
Hoover said the competitive team was formed last March, after she had some parents and girls that asked her to start the team. Hoover said she also coached an all-star team in the early 2000's.
Tryouts were held last March and 14 girls were selected for the team, with ages ranging from 6-18. Since Shenandoah Cheer was in its early stages as an organization, there weren't enough girls to have more than one team. So the competitive team, which is made up of mostly girls 9-and-under, are competing in the 16-18-year-old division.
"It's a little hard to compete against a squad that has all 16-17-18 year-old's on it," Hoover said. "We've been holding our own and doing a pretty good job."
The competitive squad began competing back in October, and Hoover said the team practices two or three times every week.
The girls have been able to travel to competitions, mostly in Maryland. They went to Reach the Beach, a very big cheerleading competition, in February held in Ocean City, Md., and placed third.
The team has done very well, including several first places, and they won the Cheerstarz Nationals in Emmitsburg, Md., on March 29.
The cheer squad wants to win this weekend, but they also understand that just having a good time is just as important.
"It's good to be here with all the girls and just have fun," said 8-year-old Kennedy Whetzel. "It's not really about winning. Sometimes we get second, sometimes we get third, it doesn't matter as long as we have fun."
"It really gets me pumped, winning isn't the only thing," said 11-year-old Jada House. "It's about the people who I cheer with, and it's all about having fun and it's what I love to do."
Hoover said the goal was to raise $3,500 for the trip to Virginia Beach to help pay for all the expenses. So far Hoover said they've raised around $2,300. Anyone interested in donating money can get in touch with them through their Facebook page, their web site -- http://www.shenandoahcheer.com or e-mail Hoover at email@example.com.
Hoover said she would also like to thank the league's sponsors: Capital Meats, Thomas Galati, Shenandoah Towing, Karen Cooper, Hawks Enterprises, Dawn Lindhurst, Sager Real Estate, Haun Magruder Raybet Construction, D & D Partnership, Shenandoah Animal Hospital, French Dentistry, McDonalds, Barbara Rushbrooke, Muhlenberg Motors and Wightmans Insurance. Hoover said the team's manager Ashtin Martz has also been a big help to her.
The Shenandoah Cheer League currently has 36 girls in it, but Hoover said they probably had as many as 80 girls in the league throughout the past year.
They also formed a junior competitive squad, consisting of girls 8-and-under in January, and that team has also done very well.
Hoover said the senior competitive squad's biggest challenger next weekend will probably be from a team from Maryland. She said they lost to them by seven points back in the fall, and only lost by four points in one of the more recent competitions.
"They definitely have a chance to win, they just got to get their heads right," Hoover said.
Hoover said she would like to have around 30 girls in the competitive squads next season, so that they can have three different squads.
She said that the most important thing is that the area always has a league for cheerleading.
"I definitely want to keep the performance team available to any girl in the county," Hoover said. "It's only $65 for the whole year. It includes their uniform and a set of pom poms. I want that available for any single girl anywhere who wants to just cheer, and have a good time and learn the basics."
Contact Assistant Sports Editor Tommy Keeler at 540-465-5137 ext. 168, or firstname.lastname@example.org Follow on Twitter @tkeelernvd