Wylie Cheer takes on 68 cheer squads from around Texas today for the UIL 5A, Division 2 State Title at the 2023 UIL Spirit State Championships. The squad performed at 1:54 p.m. today and currently awaits the news of if they advance into the finals on Saturday morning.
The UIL Cheer Spirit Competition is different than non-UIL competition cheer events in that it requires the squad to demonstrate skills and routines seen on the sidelines on game day when supporting their school’s athletic teams.
The squad performed a 3-minute, high-energy routine that combined three categories: crowd leading, fight song and band dance. Tumbling skills and advanced stunts the Wylie students and fans are used to seeing at pep rallies are not included in their competition routine because UIL focuses on the team’s overall performance to promote crowd-leading spirit.
Wylie’s competition squad includes both varsity and junior varsity athletes, making the squad 36 members strong. Often squads use a professional choreographer to create the routine, but this year senior Sarah Sanchez spearheaded the efforts – both creating and teaching the routine. When Sanchez was selected by coaches Krystal Martin and Alexis Hughes to be the competition captain, she said she ran with it. “It was the opportunity to take ownership.”
She said she researched for months to find the choreography and cheer skills the squad would execute the best. Sanchez felt she had an insight into the squad’s ability compared to an outside coach. “I’ve learned over time the strengths and weaknesses of each person and tried to place them in the right spot for success – something outside coaches don’t know about our squad,” she said.
The routine uses multiple strategies to encourage crowd participation including a variety of signs with key words for the crowd to yell. In addition, there are varying levels of extensions that raise the cheerleaders with signs to emphasis when to yell them. Ripples of cheer poms flashing school colors enhance the routine and sharp motions help visually make the routine cohesive.
In addition to the very difficult and rigorous task of preparing the squad for their highest competition, Sanchez did it with a broken ankle. Her injury happened at the beginning of November a week into competition practices. She received clearance to compete with the squad on January 2.
Wylie has placed within the top 20 the last two years and hopes to bring the title home this year. Coaches Martin and Hughes are very proud of the hard work the squad as put in this year towards this moment. We are cheering for you and wish you the best of luck!
By Kristen Johnson