It was their proving ground.
At the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) summer camp, they showed off a home routine, where they performed a program of their own creation and were awarded a superior ribbon.
Then, they performed a fight song routine and earned another superior ribbon.
The proving ground became a showcase of dazzle and awe.
“I am extremely proud of this year’s squad,” said cheer sponsor Karen House. “We have a strong work ethic, and this includes the creativeness of our mascot, Zach.”
By the end of camp, the cheerleaders and mascot lay claim to seven superior ribbons and a superior performance trophy.
Then they received an invitation to perform at the Capital One Bowl.
“I was excited, jumping for joy that we were given the opportunity again,” said co-captain Amanda House.
This will be the cheerleading squad’s second appearance at the Capital One Bowl, previously performing there in 2013.
To make it to Orlando, the cheerleaders will have to raise funds along the way. They’ve started early in the morning, holding bake sales at 5:30 around Skidmore and Beeville. They most recently held a turkey dinner fundraiser last Sunday.
“Fundraising has been difficult, but fun,” Captain Ariana Haws said. “It’s been good; everyone has been very supportive and helpful.”
The squad has several sponsors and donations from businesses in Skidmore and Beeville. They have enough to make the first deposit, due Sept. 12, and hope to pay the remaining balance Nov. 7.
“We are gradually getting the money we need to get there, but I am confident we will reach our goal.” Karen said. “I have some very determined girls on the squad who really want to go.”
When they make the final payment, the UCA will send them a routine DVD to start practicing, before they hit Orlando and begin a more rigorous schedule.
The Capital One Bowl will be held on New Year’s Day 2015. Although the stage will be magnified, Haws is not at all nervous.
“I’m very excited to perform at the Capital One Bowl,” Haws said. “I love the adrenaline.”
Being the cheer sponsor, Karen gets to see her team, and her daughter, work hard day in and day out and couldn’t be more proud of what they have demonstrated to earn the opportunity.
“If anyone has been the parent of a cheerleader, you can relate to what an honor it is for these girls, who come from a small town that most people have never heard of, to be able to perform and be on TV during a college bowl game,” Karen said. “Not to mention, one as (famous) as the Capital One Bowl.”
In January, the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium will be their new proving ground, where they can, once again, enthrall the Orlando crowd and captivate hearts.
Though they have a ways to go in terms of fundraising and practice, it’s an incredible opportunity and a moment that will never be forgotten.
If you would like to help the Skidmore-Tynan cheerleaders, you can visit http://www.gofundme.com/ciuwqs to make a donation.
“Even though it is a lot of work to get there, it is an experience of a lifetime,” Amanda said. “One that I will love and cherish my entire life, because I get to spend it with the girls who I consider my family.
“Not to mention, we get to go to Disney World, too.”
Mackey Torres is the regional editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 343-5219, or at regional@mySouTex.com.