Caney Creek Co-Ed Cheer Become UIL Spirit State Champions

By: By Natalia Molina, Senior at Caney Creek High School Executive Editor of The Creek Compass
| Published 01/12/2024


CONROE, TX -- The Caney Creek Co-Ed cheerleading team won the Co-Ed UIL State Spirit Championship on January 4 at the Fort Worth Convention Center.

"I am incredibly proud of the commitment and hard work of these young men and women," Dr. Terri Benson, Caney Creek Principal said. "They serve our community tirelessly, and it warms our hearts to see them receive this well-deserved recognition. Caney Creek Cheer has consistently showcased their dedication to service and representing our community, and this victory is a testament to their spirit.

"Throughout the year, our cheer team works diligently to support all of the other clubs and organizations on campus. Their efforts have not only lifted spirits during games and events, but have also brought together our school community in unified support. Their unwavering dedication is truly commendable."

The team left for competition on January 2 and along the way stopped by the Stockyards and stayed in Fort Worth practicing over and over the night before, then headed to dinner.

The team performed its game day routine twice, the first time was for the preliminary round. Sparta says many of the team members were unsure whether they were going to make it to the final round, but once scores were given out by judges, the team found out it passed to finals.

“Our whole demeanor changed once we performed prelims,” junior Rylee Peroni said. “Everything just did a complete 360.”

In between the preliminary round and the final round, teams are given some time to make changes to their routine based on scoring. There was one problem: time. Judges took off a couple of points because the routine’s timing was off, however the team quickly made changes.

“Seeing everybody’s focus and drive to want to correct what we needed to fix really made me feel like we could actually do this and win,” Sparta said.

As they got onto the mat for finals, the cheerleaders made sure to get in the spirit by hyping each other up. Excitement replaced teammates’ doubts as the mat became their spotlight.

“We were all screaming and hyping each other up, telling everybody to get it together because this was our moment,” Sparta said.

After the final round, the team found out it won with a score of 98.33 out of 100 total points.

"Our CCHS Co-Ed Cheerleading Team brings home our school's FIRST team state championship!" Kendall Hineman, CCHS Athletic Director exclaimed. "This is what happens when relentless pursuit of perfection and hard work combine. To not only bring home the gold, but to do it with all the pressure in the world on their shoulders, just shows how special this group of student-athletes are.

"Seeing their joy and emotion on the stage after they were announced the BEST in the state of Texas will forever be a memory that I will cherish for years to come. The Co-Ed Cheer Team continues to be the heartbeat to our high school, they bring unmatched spirit to all of our events we have on the campus of Caney Creek. They have made our entire community proud and for that I am forever grateful. This is just the beginning; I look foward to their continued success on and off the mat!"

“Our goal was always to get a gold medal and now we have one, there’s nothing to lose,” Peroni said. “We just have to work harder to keep it because the competition isn’t going anywhere.”

Since September, the cheerleaders have been working on their routine. Losing members, making changes, moving people around to different positions and having the younger members adapt to it, all created challenges along the way. The team even had to cut its winter break early and come back to school to practice a few days after Christmas and the following week.

“I’m just really proud that all their work and effort paid off and that they were able to overcome a lot of obstacles this year,” Head coach Janel Jackson said. “There’s just been a lot of challenges and things that they’ve had to overcome and it’s been great to see them be able to use this as something to keep their focus on and stay positive.”

For many seniors like Sparta and Analissa Chapa, who are veteran cheerleaders from seventh grade, this was the last time being able to compete at the year-round UIL competition, which made the moment even more special.

“It’s amazing to win, because I’ve always wanted it and we’ve always tried,” Chapa said. “Now, we won finally and it’s our last year, so hopefully we can leave it for them (underclassmen) to keep going.”

The co-ed team made history, being the first school in the district to win a state title in cheer for UIL. It also made the highest score overall with 585 teams competing this year. They had the second-highest score in all divisions in the history of the event and the highest co-ed score on record since 2015. Jackson felt that the win was a testament to the community and not just the program itself.

“It’s the Creek; that’s what makes it the best, you know?” Jackson said. “We are proud to be the first cheerleading team in Conroe ISD to bring home a first-place state medal! Thank you to everyone who continuously supports our cheer program, have sent congratulations and cheers us on. We couldn't be more proud that Caney Creek was the first to win this title for our district representing CISD, CCHS and the Panther Community!”

The UIL State Spirit Championships was first introduced to Texas in 2015, created to reward cheerleaders for their work on the sidelines and to create a venue in which they could be recognized for their talents and abilities. This championship has been featured on the NFHS network and has been seen by tens of thousands of spectators and fans.

The team will be competing at the NCA Nationals for the first time. The competition will take place Friday and Saturday, Jan. 19 and 20, at the Kay Bailey Hutchison Convention Center in Dallas.

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