By RACHAEL LONG / Photos courtesy of Tracie Martin
After its first year as a squad, the Mill Creek Competition Cheer team has earned a bid to compete in February at the national competition at Walt Disney World in Orlando.
The team, made up of Mill Creek Middle School students, had to be formed separately from the school for legal reasons, Tracie Martin said.
Martin is a team mom and the president of the Mill Creek Cheer Committee, which is a 501(c)(3) organization. The committee is made up of six team moms who volunteer their time to help fundraise for the team.
Thirteen girls across sixth, seventh and eighth grades make up the squad, and the team competes in the small school category, for teams with 16 members or less.
Martin said it’s unusual for a young team to earn a bid to the national conference — especially among teams who have been cheering for years — and it’s a big deal.
“We really didn’t expect it their first year,” Martin said. “We were shocked they got the bid, which is great.”
During its first competitive season, Martin said the team participated in several competitions through Varsity and the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA).
Coached by Trey Baker and McKenzie Nicole, the team had a strong start.
At the Middle Tennessee Cheer Classic at Blackman High School on Oct. 13, the team finished in third place out of seven teams.
But their success didn’t hold across all of their competitions, and Martin said the girls were discouraged after not doing so well in one competition.
“We had to do a lot of cheerleading for the cheerleaders and pull them together and rally them,” Martin said. “But they pulled it together.”
The girls put in work and found their footing once again. Martin said some members cheer on three different teams and spend 4-5 days a week training in the gym.
On Nov. 10, the Mill Creek Competition Cheer team competed at the UCA Bluegrass Championship in Lexington, KY. It was there the team received their bid to compete in Nationals and placed sixth out of 17 teams.
In order to receive a bid, the team had to place in the top half of the competition bracket they competed in. Martin said it was “a hard competition” against 12 experienced teams.
Now, Martin said the girls have been fundraising to pay for their trip. And while they’ve brought home some recognition, Martin said the program has also given them much more.
“Now, they’re just a great group of friends, and they cheer each other on,” Martin said. “They always have each other.”
Martin said the committee would like to keep the competition cheer program going and even start a competitive high school team.
“This would be a great thing for Nolensville, to get this program up and going,” Martin said. “We’d love to have more girls next year.”
The Mill Creek Competition Cheer team will compete at Nationals on Saturday Feb. 9. If the team places high enough the first day, Martin said the girls will get to compete again on Sunday.