Andalusia varsity cheerleaders bring home AHSAA’s 4A State Championship

Published 4:00 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

Just days after seeing its football team bring home a state championship, Andalusia High School will need to make even more room in the trophy case after the varsity cheerleading team brought home the top trophy from the Alabama High School Athletic Association’s state cheerleading finals on Monday.

Leading this year’s cheerleading squad are coaches Ali Jackson and Katelyn Williamson, both in their first year.

“We got here with a lot of hard work and a lot of practice hours. These girls wanted to compete and dedicated themselves to putting in the work,” Jackson said.

“The girls have worked so hard this year. They were determined and worked hard. We watched them grow as a team and we couldn’t be more proud of them,” Williamson added.

According to the coaches, it was the girls on the squad who made the decision to compete for the state title this year, something they had not done since 2008.

“They did so well at summer camp that they decided to commit themselves and go for state,” Williamson said.

Catherine Pettie, captain of the squad, said the squad went into the championship prepared and ready to bring home the title.

“We worked so hard. We all play different sports, but we all worked hours and hours. I had a good feeling about it,” Pettie said. “We couldn’t let the boys just win; the girls had to win, too. We had the best energy we’ve ever had and our crowd was amazing. We could hear them screaming and cheering for us. Our energy was super high. It was the best routine we ever did.”

Junior cheerleader Cape Merrell added that last week’s football championship only added fuel for the ladies as they prepared for their turn at a title.

“After (Friday’s 4A football title) game, some of the coaches told us ‘it’s your turn now, you have to bring it home on Monday.’ We kept telling each other we have to bring one home, too, and how awesome it would be to win two state championships in one weekend,” Merrell said.

A three-sport student-athlete, Merrell spoke about the differences between other sports and cheerleading.

“In basketball and volleyball, you get multiple opportunities to make up for mistakes. In cheer, you get three minutes to do your routine and that’s it. You have to practice over and over because you only get that one chance,” she said.

Another junior on the squad, Kamari Gay, said the entire team was prepared and ready for the competition.

“It feels great to win a state championship. As soon as we got on the bus this morning it was all gas, no breaks. We had the music going, we were feeling great and we knew we had to take that on the floor with us. It’s a great feeling,” Gay said.

The Andalusia cheerleaders qualified for state after a strong performance at the South Regional Cheerleading State Qualifier held at the Mobile Civic Center on Nov. 3. Other teams competing in the south regional who qualified for state included: Satsuma, Orange Beach, UMS-Wright Prep, Dale County, Prattville Christian Academy, St. Michael Catholic School, and Hale County.

The state finals were held Monday, Dec. 5, at the Birmingham Crossplex where squads competed in a traditional routine as well as a “game day” format that included a combination of a band chant, a situational sideline routine led by a cue from the announcer which then moved into the crowd-leading section and ending with the fight song.

Members of the AHS cheerleading squad are:

Seniors: Catherine Pettie, Marion Bradley, Aubree Caldwell, Caylee Clark, Aspen Carter, and Tara Ward

Juniors: Kyleigh Curry, Marge Duffy, Kamari Gay, Chaeyun Lee, Alicia McClain, Cape Merrell, and Brynn Palmer

Sophomores: Brittan Bennett, Olivia Cravey, Lily Jo Elmore, and Annie Park

Freshman: Makaylin Howard

(Editor’s Note: Special thanks to Skip Enzor of Cantskipthis Photography for his contributions to this story.)