The Blackman High football-competition squad captured the National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando on Saturday, Feb. 9. It is the third time in four years the team has won top honors in its division.
Blackman competed in the Small Coed Division I against 17 other teams from across the country. Teams qualify to attend the national event through regional and state competitions.
Blackman also won its sixth TSSAA state championship in November, which qualified them for the national event. The division, which head coach Heather Wortman called “really tough,” is for co-ed teams with four males or less on the team. Including alternates, the team consists of 27 students, ten of which are seniors.
The team didn’t have much time to enjoy the sights of Orlando. Wortman, along with assistant coach Courtney Gregory left for Florida last Wednesday and had two-a-day practices on Thursday and Friday.
Even though they were at Disney, they sacrificed fun in order to better themselves and give them the best chance possible for a national title, Wortman said. Then on Saturday, the squad competed first in the semi-final round, advancing to the finals later that evening. It was then they were declared champions by four points, their largest margin of victory to date. Kentwood High School out of Washington came in second place.
“It’s easy for everyone to think that competition is our focus. We think we’re helping raise good people who happen to be good cheerleaders,” Wortman said. “What you do off the blue mat is most important. I’m unbelievably proud of them.”
“Cheering for Blackman football on Friday nights in the fall is what these kids love to do,” assistant coach Gregory said, “but competing nationally gives our student athletes something else to work toward. Over the past five or six years we have had over 25 cheerleaders go on to cheer in college, all of which earned some form of scholarship. We are very proud of what our program has accomplished.”
The championship will be aired on ESPN throughout March and April.