Three are part of team that recently won a championship
By Shirley Shuman
A team of 27 cheerleaders, which includes three Braxton girls, recently won first place in the Columbus Grand National competition held Feb. 26-27. Sponsor of this team is Champs Central, an all-star (travel) cheer and gymnastics team based in Clarksburg.
Brooklyn Paletti, Bianca Grindo, and Jeilyn West, all three cheerleaders at the local middle school, are part of the team Blaze. A fourth Braxton girl, Hadley Burrough, competed at the same competition as part of the team Glimmer, the youngest group sponsored by Champs Central.
Paletti, the daughter of Andrea Paletti and Josh Nichols, has been cheering for nine years. She explained that what she likes best about cheerleading is “probably working with teammates and going to competitions.” Paletti said, “Because I like to try to win.”
“What I like best about cheering is all the friends. It seems like a big family,” West said. “Cheering for competition gives us so many opportunities like getting to travel. It’s overall a great experience,” She likes competition because of the travel but also the actual performance, especially “when you’re on stage with all the lights and the people cheering.” The daughter of Jeff and Sarah West, she has been cheering since she was three.
Grindo enjoys cheering because of the experience she receives in being around teammates and doing competitions. “Competition is exciting,” she said. “I like traveling and showing off my skills..The daughter of Dan and Jennifer Grindo, she is in her fifth year of cheering.
Hadley Burrough, is the daughter of Kevin and Brittnie Robins. .She is six years old and a student at Flatwoods Elementary School.
According to Grindo, the cheer teams practice “two or three times a week about three hours each practice.” An actual competitive performance, she said, “lasts two and a half to three minutes.”
Champ Central sponsors six teams, ranging from Level 1 for the tiny girls through Level 4, the senior group. Another group, Lucky Charms, is an exhibition group which is not judged at competition. This team is designed for those with special needs. The teams travel to different competitions nationwide with the goal of receiving a bid to move on Another goal is to qualify for US Nationals held in Louisville KY, on April 23-24. Teams must qualify nationally to participate.
Gym owner Debbie Hartman has coached cheering at several different schools, including Salem International University and served as athletic director at Gore Middle School. She is currently a WVSSAC coach and was named Official of the Year. Hartman serves as a WV Regional and State Cheer rules interpreter.
On March 20, the Braxton girls will travel to Pittsburgh PA. for their next competition.