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Reynolds cheerleading team adds to school's trophy collection with championship win

The Rockets cheerleaders recently competed in and won the North Carolina Cheer Coaches Association state championship in “Small Varsity Non-Tumble Division 1." (Photo credit: WLOS Staff)

The A.C. Reynolds athletic department isn’t lacking for trophies. The football team finished as runners-up in the state and the boys’ basketball team is challenging for a conference championship.

At both sets of games, however, is another set of title-winning athletes. The Rockets cheerleaders recently competed in and won the North Carolina Cheer Coaches Association state championship in “Small Varsity Non-Tumble Division 1."

“We've faced some adversity with roster changes and injuries, and for us it was redemption and a chance to win the title we've been so desperately working for,” said Carissa Brown, the lone senior on the team.

Cheerleading has long been a hot button issue in sports conversations. Many argue it isn’t a true sport because they support the other teams.

“I think it's as much contact as any other sport,” argued Brandi Buckner, a junior and team captain. “We get hit at practices. We don't have protection to protect ourselves. It's just as much competition as a football championship."

When you watch competitive cheerleading, it’s almost impossible to argue against them. The athletes do flips, jumps, and lift teammates off the ground.

“That's a part of being an athlete. You build up the strength and you find the motivation to be able to pick up a human being,” said Brown.

The school spirit and support side of cheerleading is a huge draw for many of the participants. Buckner explained the team has started a movement called “Rocket Pride Inside” during school hours.

“It just pumps up the athletes and gets them going,” she added. “It's just something you couldn't find anywhere else.”

With Brown about to leave due to graduation, the inevitable reflection season has begun to creep up. While the state championship was the goal, the memories come from supporting A.C. Reynolds High School.

“I've found some of my best friends through cheerleading, and it's almost more like a family rather than a team,” she said, pointing out that no other sport covers multiple seasons. “Honestly, it's been a blessing to be able to cheer for the Rockets for four years, and I’m truly grateful for this experience. I'll always bleed green and gold.”

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