Shaler competitive spirit teams earns return trip to PIAA championships
Friday, January 10, 2020 | 12:54 AM
Carrying on the legacy set in years past doesn’t burden the Shaler Area competitive spirit team. The Titans welcome the expectations set by previous classes.
After placing fourth in the small division at WPIALs, Shaler went into the state championships with high expectations.
“Our hopes are high,” Titans coach Phyllis Schatz said. “We expect to win. Our routine is more difficult than most teams, and if we execute it, we can win.”
Shaler won the small division in 2018 and finished as runner-up in the medium division in 2015. The PIAA has held state championships in the sport since 2013.
The Titans, who have 15 girls on the team, are a veteran group. Shaler has seven seniors and no freshmen on the team. Last year, the Titans had seven freshmen who all stuck with the program.
Senior co-captain Mallory Robinson said everyone returning has provided Shaler with a strong support system. Robinson started cheering at 8 and is looking forward to her final few high school competitions.
“It is the same team, and we wanted to build our skills,” Robinson said. “We have a lot of people to help us build our skills. Everyone helps each other. For me, tumbling is the most challenging.”
All of those skills have been honed in the competitions throughout the season.
Schatz said the Titans learned a basic routine from a choreographer early in the year and have spent the rest of the season embellishing it.
“We’ve added more difficulty and have become more together as a team,” senior captain Maddison Clifton said. “We’ve gained confidence and pushed to find out what we can be.”
Shaler put in a strong performance at districts to get back to states. The Titans finished behind Pine-Richland, South Fayette and South Park. Norwin and Elizabeth Forward also qualified for PIAAs out of the WPIAL.
“I think one thing is the degree of difficulty,” said Schatz on how Shaler’s found success. “The routine is a lot harder, which has some risks. The pros of having more risk is the judges are able to see the girls are performing skills in the routine that are more difficult.”
Senior captain Josalyn Scarberry is looking forward to the next few weeks of competition. With states and nationals marking the end of a season, she’s looking forward to all of their work paying dividends.
“At the end of the routine, when we say, ‘Go Shaler,’ that’s when we feel all the hard work paid off,” Scarberry said.