MILTON — Over the weekend, Milton Cheerleading took third-place during competition with a fast-paced, in-sync and enthusiastic routine.
Like all winter sports competition this year, the 11th Annual Vermont Cheerleading Coaches Association (VCCA) Invitational was different than usual. Participating teams had until 12 p.m. March 13 to submit a video of their 2-minute routine for judging. Teams are judged in categories like tumbling difficulty, transitions and flow and dance technique.
Milton filmed its routine early Saturday morning, in the quiet gymnasium of Milton Elementary School.
"I wish all of the other teams could have been here," Coach Jennifer Hemmingway said. "Being able to hype each other up is such a big part of cheerleading competition."
Before the team filmed their routine, Madison Bellew-Brown, a senior, said she had a feeling the team was going to do well. She and her teammates have been working really hard this season, she said.
Bellew-Brown started cheerleading in second grade. Hemmingway was her coach then too.
"I have always been a dancer, but I also have the sass that's needed for cheerleading," Bellew-Brown said. "I once won an award for my facial expressions."
This year, cheerleaders are required to wear facial coverings at all times, including during competition, so Hemmingway noted its difficult to convey the same amount of emotion and enthusiasm while performing. She reminded the team before the camera rolled to smile and be expressive with their eyes.
Per VCCA rules, Milton Athletic Director Marcel Choquette was present to witness the filming.
"I know nothing about cheer, but I know about athletic performance, and that was so much better than last week," Choquette said to the team after their practice run.
Hemmingway agreed, saying she is proud of how the team has improved despite the shortened season. By Saturday evening, the team was told it had won third-place in the small varsity division.
Details about the upcoming Vermont Principals’ Association Cheerleading Championship are still to be announced.