Washington resident, international champion
Washington High School junior Stephanie Loy is involved in many activities. On top of her studies, she is involved in National Honor Society, runs cross-country, runs track, works a part-time job and takes part in competitive cheerleading.
Loy has been cheering since she was in the second grade, doing it competitively since she was in the fourth grade. Since she was in the sixth grade she has been doing so with Iowa Elite Cheer out of Cedar Rapids.
Elite Cheer occupies Loy’s time for three weekly practices and around eight competitions during a year. Competitions take place in cities such as Chicago, Ill., Indianapolis, Ind., and Des Moines, Iowa. The time demands can be stressful for Loy.
“It takes up a lot of your time and it also demands a lot from your body. I go through a lot of Icy Hot. It’s painful and I’m sore a lot. I’m really rushed for time but that’s all right because I hate to just stand around,” Loy said.
Loy’s sacrificing of her free time has paid off. In her time with Elite Cheer, Loy has been part of three UCA International Cheerleading Championship teams. The Elite Cheer squad won a title in 2011, 2012 and again this year. Loy’s squad secured its third championship in the past four years in Orlando, Fla., on Sunday, March 16.
“Our whole team meshes really well. Sometimes that can be hard especially if you have an all-girl team but we all get along really well,” Loy commented.
The team, which consists of 21 athletes from all over eastern Iowa, defeated teams from all-star gyms from Florida, Indiana, New York, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington.
Usually winning a championship denotes the end of a season and the beginning of an off-season. That isn’t the case in competitive cheerleading, unless you count the few days that practices aren’t held before tryouts begin on March 29 as an off-season. In order to deal with the grind, Loy says you have to love it.
“I like a lot of it. It gives me an adrenaline rush that I don’t get from any of the other sports that I do. It’s a fun environment. I’ll be on two teams starting next week,” Loy explained.
Loy says that this year that is about to begin this weekend could be her last. She will be entering her senior year at Washington High School this fall. If she chooses to continue during her freshman year of college, that option is available to her, but Loy is unsure right now.
“I don’t know if I will do it another year after this year. It’s really time-consuming and I need to focus on my studies. I may want to cheer in college too; we’ll see,” Loy stated.
Because of all the demands of the sport, Loy’s advice to anyone wanting to get into competitive cheering is, “to work out a lot and get in shape or you will be sore a lot. Go to the tumbling classes and schedule private sessions with the coaches.”
In her years with Elite Cheer, Loy has learned how to balance her body on top of her teammates’ hands. Through that training, she has also learned how to balance all the demands of her activities. With that balance and other skills in tow, perhaps another championship will be brought to Iowa this year.