Independence cheer rises to the top


Independence Varsity Cheer 2021

The Independence Cheer Team’s competition season commenced on Sept. 25 at Stone Bridge High School, where the Tigers placed fifth in competition. Since, they’ve competed six more times, ultimately gaining District Runner-Up, Region Champion, State Champion, and Grand Champion of Virginia titles.

With a new division, new rules and new expectations, the defending state champion team underwent a season marked by change. 

The school-wide shift from division 3A athletics to 5A brought the Tigers’ season to new heights. Co-captain Reese Brown, 12, explained, “It’s equally as competitive in 3A and 5A, but we now have to compete at districts to make it to regionals. We have to beat more teams to make it to states.”

Coming off of a high last season, the Tigers were the team to beat for opponents. “Having the title we gained this last season has put a lot of pressure on the team this season, but we have come together as a family to put out our best routine possible,” said Victoria Pellegrini, 11. 

Culminating the need for adjustment, new rules imposed this year declared aspects of the team’s original routine illegal, spawning a lower than typical score for the Tigers in their earliest competition. 

On Thursday, Oct. 7 at Briar Woods High School, the Tigers took first place at mini-districts, snatching their first win of the season. As a result, the Tigers hosted the district competition at home on Tuesday, Oct. 12, where they came away with second place and a ticket to regionals.

Having finally found their groove, the Tigers became Region Champions on Saturday, Oct. 23 at Stafford High School, advancing them to the state finals.

The Tigers then traveled to Richmond to compete in the final showdown of the season, the state final competition at Virginia Commonwealth University. Saving the best for last, the team placed first and achieved the highest score out of all of the teams in Virginia, earning the titles of Class 5A State Champions and Grand Champions of Virginia. 

Fueled by adversity from the beginning, the Tigers were hungry for a comeback. At the forefront of the charge, Brown stated, “At the beginning of the season, my team was completely underestimated by ourselves and others. Throughout the season we worked extremely hard and came together as a team, creating a masterpiece of a routine. We became not only Regional and State Champions, but most importantly we became a strong family, and I wouldn’t have wanted to win with any other group of people.”