Sports

Kentwood stunt team wins national title

Torey Robinson, Payton Kalka, Nichole Griffin and Alexia Thomas (from left to right) wave to the crowd during a routine. The girls won Kentwood’s first national title this year for an all-girls stunt team.  - Courtesy photo
Torey Robinson, Payton Kalka, Nichole Griffin and Alexia Thomas (from left to right) wave to the crowd during a routine. The girls won Kentwood’s first national title this year for an all-girls stunt team.
— image credit: Courtesy photo

Kentwood’s four person all-girl stunt team is eagerly awaiting their white satin jackets.

The team, which is made up of juniors Nichole Griffin and Torey Robinson and freshmen Payton Kalka and Alexia “Bebe” Thomas, brought home Kentwood’s first ever UCA National Championship in the all-girl stunt team category.

“Winning this is really big,” Robinson said. “This is every high school cheerleader’s dream, to get a white jacket.”

For the all-girl stunt team portion of the UCA national championships, teams submit a video of their routine to be judged. When the Kentwood team started practicing last summer, they knew they wanted to enter the national competition, but as the season went on, it slipped their collective minds. Then Robinson checked the website and realized the deadline to submit their video was only three days away.

“We came up with the routine in 20 minutes,” Griffin said.

The foursome spent the next three days putting in extra practice time.

“We just started throwing elements together,” Robinson said. “We knew we could throw stunts other schools couldn’t do.”

Among those stunts was a double up — something Robinson said is rare in high school cheerleading.

Kalka explained that when trying to do a double up, rather than a single or 1.5 twist, the difference comes in the technique.

Griffin added that they knew all the individual stunts already, it was just a matter of working out the specifics.

“Putting it all together took a lot of energy,” Griffin said.

All that extra time and energy proved to be worth it.

“We all like to work for each other,” Thomas said.

All four started cheerleading on recreational teams under the age of 10 and have experience on club cheerleading teams.

Kalka said her favorite moments of cheerleading are when the team comes together, puts in a great performance and they know their coaches are proud of them.

“I really like being able to work hard in the gym and going out on the floor and showing what we’ve done,” Griffin said.

“I like the adrenaline, that’s what pushes me,” Thomas added. “Knowing that the crowd likes watching.”

As the national champions, the Kentwood stunt team was invited to the UCA Worlds Championship in Orlando, but they were unable to go. They do, however, plan on entering again next year and want to make it to Florida.

One of the most exciting aspects of the championship victory, the team said, was beating other squads that were expected to win.

While Robinson said she has fulfilled part of her dream by earning a white jacket, she now has her eyes set on the entire team winning a championship next year.”

“Coming into high school I told myself I wasn’t leaving without a white jacket,” Robinson said.

 

 

 

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