Strawberry Crest’s co-ed cheer team competed in Gainesville at the beginning of February for states.

Strawberry Crest High School’s co-ed cheer team won its ninth consecutive states title at the beginning of February during the weekend competition at the University of Florida.

Led by coach Loveny Savarino, Strawberry Crest’s 23-person co-ed team performed the school’s hardest routine this season, featuring difficult skills from each of the athletes that performed. Prior to states, they achieved the highest score in the program’s history with 95.3 at regionals.

“The routine itself is the most difficult routine Strawberry Crest has ever matted. There are over 20 release moves throughout the entire routine. Every single stunt group is doing a super-elite skill throughout their routine,” said Savarino.

While their challenging routine came together nicely by the end of the competition, the Chargers’ team struggled to perform at a competitive level confidently and consistently. Tryouts took place over the summer, but Savarino noticed her team struggling to gain the chemistry necessary for successful performances.

“Just getting [rookies] to gel with the vets and being able to have that chemistry on the floor, that’s really what we were working on all year,” said Savarino. “We physically knew we could do all these skills; we were just working very hard towards our mentality and our performance aura.”

Savarino encouraged her team to participate in mat time, where they discussed how practices were going and what changes could be made. She also challenged her athletes to use only positive and encouraging words during practices and competitions, as well as to gently offer constructive criticism.

“We really worked on the team dynamic as far as us taking time from practice in order to talk as a team to talk about how we’re feeling … or what, as a team, we needed,” said Savarino. “We talked together and we just listened to each other, and we would change our practices up and change our pregame rituals. We would change things up until we found the right groove.”

Following their ninth consecutive states title, Strawberry Crest went on to compete at the National High School Cheerleading Championship held from February 10-12. They featured their challenging routine at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex at Walt Disney World.

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Lily Belcher
Lily Belcher is a writer for the Osprey Observer. She started as an intern in the summer of 2020 and has continued to write for the Osprey Observer since completing her internship. Lily is majoring in mass communications at the University of South Florida and is a staff writer for the university’s paper, The Oracle. She enjoys writing about local nonprofit organizations and community role models who have made an impact on her hometown.