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Thursday, 17 April 2014 00:00

Area cheer team claims international title

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Members of the Senior Platinum team at Glitz All-Star Cheer, Jordyn Nicoson, left, and Alysa Rothfelder, right, support Cassie Hanly as they demonstrate a stunt. Above left, the team celebrates its recent first-place finish in the International All Star Cheerleading Championship. Members of the Senior Platinum team at Glitz All-Star Cheer, Jordyn Nicoson, left, and Alysa Rothfelder, right, support Cassie Hanly as they demonstrate a stunt. Above left, the team celebrates its recent first-place finish in the International All Star Cheerleading Championship.

JANESVILLE MESSENGER -- Members of the Senior Platinum team at Glitz All-Star Cheer Inc. in Janesville have had a lot to cheer about recently.

The 13-member team took first place in the Small Gym, Small Senior Division during the International All Star Cheerleading Championship, held in March in Orlando, Fla. Senior Platinum competed against nine other teams in the division.

“The whole thing was sort of surreal, just being able to accomplish what we were working towards,” said team member Jordyn Nicoson. Read the current edition here: http://www.server-jbmultimedia.net/CSI-JanesvilleMessengerSunday

The members of Senior Platinum started working on their routine in July and qualified for the international competition at a regional event in December.

Team member Alysa Rothfelder said she felt that the team had a good chance of winning the competition.

“It’s the largest competition I’ve ever been in,” Rothfelder said. “I was nervous, but when we performed I was really confident with our routine and with how we performed.”

The teams were judged on stunts, tumbling, execution, dance, jumping and execution of the routine. Ashley Sheppard, co-owner of Glitz All-Star Cheer, said the team strived to perform with zero deductions.

“If you have zero deductions your chances of winning are better, so that’s what we stressed to our kids,” Sheppard said. “We give them ice cream parties if they have zero deductions. The important part is if they did their best and if we did have deductions, which includes falls or touch downs, then we know where to work and what to practice next time.”

In the months leading up to international competition, the group practiced two hours twice a week at the CSA Kids building on Whitney Street in Janesville.

The hours of practice paid off, Nicoson said.

“With all the hard work and money that we put into it, everything you earn in the end makes it all seem worth it,” she said.

The 2014 championship finish was a huge turnaround for the Glitz All-Star Cheer team. Back in 2013, the team’s debut in the international competition, the girls came in last place out of 11 teams.

The disappointing 2013 finish offered a learning experience for the team and gave them inspiration to improve, Sheppard said.

“A lot of coaches coach their whole life and they don’t get to win such an honor,” Sheppard said. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing that we would like to repeat, but I would count my blessings if we just won this competition.

“My co-owner and I have been coaching 10 years together, and we’re just so blessed to have a whole group of kids who put their trust in us, and we were able to accomplish this together.”

Besides attending competitions, Glitz cheer members also participate in parades and host their own competition in November. Several of the members are involved with other activities, as well.

Team member Cassie Hanly participates in gymnastics, tennis and tae kwon do in addition to cheerleading. She said she enjoys being involved with different activities.

Rothfelder said she also has been involved with dance and gymnastics. She became interested in cheerleading after watching a competition on television.

Being involved with Glitz All-Star Cheer has helped her improve her cheerleading and tumbling skills, Rothfelder said.

“Tumbling is not my strong point,” she said. “Getting from where I started to where I am now, the coaches push our limits to get the skills needed for the team.”

Nicoson also has been a member of the cheerleading teams at Parker and Milton high schools.

“I think cheerleading, itself, is a big learning experience, learning how to work together and being able to take what you learned from working together and applying that to the rest of your life and other activities,” Nicoson said.

Sheppard said she works with her students’ schedules, so they can be involved with other activities.

“The nice thing about our program is we can accommodate anyone who wants to do another program,” Sheppard said. “We take all experience levels and train them to do what it takes for them to be out on the floor.”

Sheppard started Glitz All-Star Cheer about six years ago with Pam Valenti. Besides the Senior Platinum team, Glitz All-Star also includes a Glimmer, Glitter and Glamour team. Sheppard said the program includes 34 students from throughout northern Illinois and southern Wisconsin.

“I went to college in Whitewater and started coaching at a local high school, and we knew another coach in the area, and we took over her spot,” Sheppard said. “We teamed up with her a little bit, and then did our own thing. There’s a lot of talent in this area, and we knew we could bring in the right formula and have a successful school.”

Glitz All-Star Cheer is in the process of starting its new season. In May, the program will move to a permanent location at 555 S. Pearl St. in Janesville. Sheppard said the new location will allow her to conduct programs throughout the year.

“It will be a big step for our company,” she said.

Cheerleading has changed a lot as a sport since Sheppard started coaching 10 years ago, she said.

“It’s no longer a sport where you just stand on the sidelines and cheer people on. It’s a full athletic sport,” Sheppard said. “It combines a lot of different athletics like dance, gymnastics and acrobatics. It takes a lot more athleticism than it used to.

“It’s more hard work and more sweat at practice. They go home and have to regain their strength and replenish themselves. There’s definitely a lot more trust involved.”

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