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RTCA Cheer Wins State

RTCA Cheer Wins State
(L to R, Front): Addie Thompson (12th), Brittan Botelho (12th), Mary Claire Wolfe (12th), Nicole Acosta (12th), Marly Dismuke (11th), Rachel Threlkeld (11th), and Carolina Thompson (11th); (Back): Evi White (10th), Maggie Bowen (8th), Marlie Dismuke (9th), Emmie Davis (11th), Kylie Acosta (10th), Kailen Brantley (8th), Madaline Wolfe (9th), and Maecon Boatright (8th).
RTCA Cheer Wins State
(L to R, Front): Addie Thompson (12th), Brittan Botelho (12th), Mary Claire Wolfe (12th), Nicole Acosta (12th), Marly Dismuke (11th), Rachel Threlkeld (11th), and Carolina Thompson (11th); (Back): Evi White (10th), Maggie Bowen (8th), Marlie Dismuke (9th), Emmie Davis (11th), Kylie Acosta (10th), Kailen Brantley (8th), Madaline Wolfe (9th), and Maecon Boatright (8th).

Courtesy of RTCA and Robin Nance

Four team members dropped to the floor when the announcement rang out, “Ladies and gentleman, your Champions and First Place goes to Robert Toombs Christian Academy.” Everyone was overcome with emotions of a season that couldn’t have played out more perfectly.

A season that began with three returning seniors, one in a sling from collarbone surgery and one new senior in a knee brace from ACL surgery; four returning juniors, one in a cast due to ankle surgery; two returning sophomores; two returning freshmen; three eighth graders and two new-returning coaches.

GIAA, like former GISA and CoEd GHSA, does not separate cheer teams into divisions based on school rankings or school class. RTCA would compete as the only single A school of nineteen that would include AA, AAA, AAAA and CoEd. After a late start to the season, due to medical clearance, the team was off and running and attended their first competition in September. The Crusader Classic was hosted by RTCA and the girls walked away with a first place finish out of four teams. The team's athleticism and tumbling skills were evident from the first competition, as the team is made up of nine former competitive gymnasts; however, stunting inexperience and age would be the challenge they would need to overcome. With a full season ahead of them, the girls made adjustments and set out to do what it took to reach their potential over the next six weeks. The team put thirteen girls on the floor and went on to compete in six invitationals: Gatewood on October 4th, they finished 2nd out of eight continued from page

teams; First Presbyterian on October 15th brought in 3rd place out of 12; Vidalia on October 20 was a first place win in the GIAA division; John Milledge on Oct 29 brought home 1st place out of 11 teams; Brentwood on November 1 was another 1st place win out of five teams. Following the Brentwood competition, an injury forced a switch in tumbling the week of the last regular season competition; however, the team pulled out a win at Bulloch Academy on November 5 over 10 teams. As the Lady Crusaders grew in confidence, the pressure of hitting at State grew as well. With such a young team, with two eighth graders and one first-time varsity flyer in the air, the team was well aware of how important controlling the nerves and adrenaline would be at State.

“State Week” would bring an unexpected night of encouragement for the Crusaders. The Vidalia Cheer team hosted a community Send-Off event where three local competitive cheer teams were invited to come together to showcase their talented athletes as they each prepared for state that upcoming weekend. The Vidalia Indians, Toombs County Bulldogs and Robert Toombs Crusaders each performed to a united crowd of maroon, red and columbia blue all cheering and lifting up our local cheer teams! RTCA’s performance was the final push and wake up the girls needed to drive them at practice the rest of the week. After a Thursday send off at RTCA, the girls started their Friday with a drive to Macon to support local teams at the GHSA State Championship.

The GIAA 2022 State Championship was held at Columbus State in Columbus, Georgia on Saturday, November 12. The event began at 1:10pm and the Lady Crusaders were scheduled to be the sixth team to compete at 1:52 pm. RTCA Cheer Coach Maddie Adams said, “Going into warmups, the girls felt good and looked good. They hit everything twice, the nerves seemed under control and we walked downstairs to the floor feeling confident.” She continues, “They were, no doubt, prepared. We knew physically performing the routine and skills would be easy for them, controlling the adrenaline and emotions of the moment was all that worried us.” The coaches continued to explain the feelings wrapped up in a two and a half minute routine. How for three girls, it would be their last time taking the mats to compete and how two of those girls were older sisters to two little sisters on the team; all on the floor and all very aware that it was the last time and final chance to take home the crown. Injuries and setbacks are always in the backs of minds and how all three flyers, two of whom were thirteen year olds, had never flown at a state competition before. “Our Seniors and several teammates have trained and competed together since elementary school”, said Coach Robin Nance, she continues,”they are all former competitive gymnasts since age 4, turned basketball players and track stars that have cheered together since middle school, and because the potential has always been there and the school has never won a cheer state title, the feeling of being THE YEAR was felt during every practice. And now the moment was here and it was overwhelming”. The team performed flawlessly… except for one bobble.

As the team exited the floor and took their seats, they worried and waited while watching the next eight teams compete. Coach Maddie, a former GHSA judge, explained the scoring system to the girls. “It would come down to execution points, as we didn’t have any deductions but the one bobble could cost us 1 to 2 points on the degree of difficulty. At the most, it would come down to how clean we performed everything else,' Coach Maddie explained. In an arena over four times the size of RTCA’s gymnasium and the only single A school on the floor, fifteen cheerleaders – teammates – friends – family, sat in a circle with their heads down praying for the best outcome. When the runner up was named, the teams, families, coaches and RT supporters in the crowd held their breath as the emcee announced, “Ladies and gentleman, your Champions and First place goes to Robert Toombs Christian Academy.” And history was made for RTCA on November 12 by a team who overcame many obstacles at the beginning of their season to end their season as State Champions!

RTCA coaches Maddie Adams and Robin Nance show off the hardware after winning the State Championship.

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