Wiscasset Rec cheerleading grows
Wiscasset Youth Cheerleading started out small with one team made up of sixth, seventh and eighth graders, called “Heat.” Since then, the program has continued to grow and is now separated into three teams: Blaze, Flare and Heat. In the past when numbers allowed, there has also been a team named Sparks, open to kindergarten through second graders.
Heat started with six girls the first year of competing. It now has 19. The team, once limited to grades six through eight, now includes grades three through nine.
Following Heat’s age group is Flare. This is a newer team that began competing for Wiscasset two years ago. It is open to grades four through six. Under Flare is Blaze, open to grades two through four. Many athletes participating in Wiscasset Cheerleading compete on more than one team, and also double as youth cheerleading coaches. Brooke Thayer, a freshman at Wiscasset Middle High School, competes on Heat and is a youth coach for Blaze.
“Being on multiple teams can be stressful, but seeing each team get better and better pays off in my mind. Knowing that I’m helping with that improvement makes it even more satisfying,” said Thayer.
Kimberly Dodge, the head of the program, has dedicated many years to helping the teams grow. She has watched members of Heat grow from sixth graders to high school seniors now competing on the school team. When asked to describe her coach, senior Corey Campbell said, “She has always been dedicated to the program and she never lets us down. She treats all of us like family and she cares about us a lot. If it weren’t for her the program wouldn’t be where it is today and there wouldn't be nearly as many girls participating today as there are,” added Campbell, who has been cheering for Wiscasset for eight years.
Alongside Dodge this year are coaches Steven Adam Holt and Kayla Bott, a former Wiscasset cheerleader who graduated last year.
The teams host many fundraisers throughout the season to raise money for clinics to better the skills of each team, buy mats to practice on, purchase music for the season, and more. In January, the parents and coaches organized a family and friends event to raise funds for the upcoming competition season and to give the town an opportunity to see the routines the girls have been working on since November before they head to competition.
The Wiscasset Community Center opens its facility to the cheering teams to practice multiple days a week. All of the teams were set to kick off the competition season on Feb. 11 at the Maine State Cheer Challenge in Augusta. Each team has at least four competitions this season. This year’s cheering season ends April 28, with Heat competing at Six Flags New England.