Congratulations are in order to the athletes of The Panther Cheer Club of Alexandria who competed at the beginning of February at the American Masters Championship in Baltimore, hosted by Varsity Brands.
The athletes, all of whom are middle school students at Carl Sandburg Middle School, wowed the crowd and judges, taking home a team national championship trophy, as well as championship jackets for each athlete. Coaches Anna Diefendorf, Ann Larkin, and Kelly Larkin, stated that the team has worked very hard this year to go from a team with very limited stunting and other skills to a team that is now performing skills that would be characterized as level 2 and 3 skills pursuant to the all-star skill level division guidelines, which guidelines rate skills from difficulty levels 1 through 5.
The coaches are very proud of the dedication and accomplishments of this team, and they believe the success of the team was enhanced by focused training sessions in all components of a performance routine, with emphasis on proper skills progression in stunting and other more difficult components.
The Panther Cheer Club is operated by the Panther-Wildcat Spirit Club, Inc., (PWSC) is a Virginia not-for-profit corporation (owned by the coaches) dedicated to providing students at Carl Sandburg Middle School of all skill levels with a safe, affordable, and convenient program to attend after school in which to learn and practice the sport of performance cheerleading. Its owners say they felt a need in this Fort Hunt enclave to ensure that the young athletes had a place to become introduced to this evolving sport at an earlier age to make them better equipped to compete in the sport at the high school level and become more competitive with some of the high school teams located elsewhere in Fairfax County. For more information on this program, please visit the club's website at: http://www.panthercheerclub.org.
(Editor's Note: This article was submitted by Anna Diefendorf.)