Cheer (1st), Pom (2nd), Stunt (2nd) regain A.I.A. Spirit Line Title

Sixth straight championship for Cheer! First Spirit Line win in “new” Division 2

cheer tournyLook closely for the pink hair ribbons and you’ll see Cactus Shadows  “Spirit Line” waiting anxiously with their fellow contestants for the awards announcements.  Photo by
Pete Mohr

PRESCOTT VALLEY – Late afternoon, Saturday, Feb. 5, having shopped successfully at Garland’s Indian Jewelry (Oak Creek Canyon) for my only grandson Will Parker’s 12th birthday present, I did my best Charles Kuralt imitation by opting to drive (for the first time) 89A southward through Sedona, then Jerome, next over Mingus Mountain’s 15 miles of switchbacks. Destination: Tim’s Toyota Center, Prescott Valley, site of the 2011 Arizona Interscholastic Association’s Spirit Line Championships.  

My traversing of Mingus Mountain was scenically rewarding; but by the time I’d descended to the distant lights of Prescott Valley darkness had fallen, and I found myself good-and-lost, headed west of Prescott. By the time I had recovered to make Tim’s, CSHS Spirit Line Head Coach Rika Cuff’s Competition Cheer and Stunt teams had long since performed.  Of the Cactus Shadows Spirit Line trio, only Head Pom Coach Cindy Knuteson’s squad remained to take the floor.  I felt somewhere between foolish and embarrassed.

Not surprising, Coach Cuff was patiently understanding. She advised me immediately that a “very small mistake” at the end of Cheer’s routine might well have cost them the Cheer championship: “My Girls’ performance was everything I could’ve asked of them; but I’ve prepared them that Sunrise Mountain will probably win.”  From this article’s headline, readers already know that Coach Cuff’s critique was, thankfully, off-the-mark pessimistic.

At approximately 10:15 p.m., with, in order, Stunt having placed 2nd, Pom, 2nd, and Cheer, a hopeful 1st, Cactus Shadows was announced as 2011 A.I.A. “Spirit Line” Champions for Division 2 schools. A.I.A. Executive Director Dr. Harold Slemmer came forward to present Coach Cuff with the championship trophy.  The winning ladies’ elation was beyond my description!  Also indescribable was the suspenseful excitement that preceded the championship announcement.  The “Spirit Line” champs then hoisted Coach Cuff above their heads, rock concert style, and joyously carried her from the arena floor.  I apologize to my readers for missing the “photo-op” of the night. 

For Coach Cuff and her Cheer squad, it was their sixth consecutive championship. Like Joe DiMaggio’s 56-game hitting streak, theirs is a record that will never be equaled. Coach Cuff to Sonoran News: “Obviously, I’m thrilled for all three of our squads, each of whose strong finishes made possible our regaining the ‘Spirit Line’ championship. Cindy (Coach Knuteson) and I are so proud of each and every girl who gave their very best this afternoon and evening. We’ll let this excitement sink in until Monday morning, 5 a.m., when Cheer starts preparing for Universal Cheerleading Association’s national competition in Orlando, Feb.11-13. We’ll leave Thursday morning, returning Monday night.”  Makes me tired, Coach!
“Congratulations to all!” doesn’t even come close.

cshs cheer champions
Courtesy photo