DACULA — Class AAAAAA competition cheerleading is a very talent-rich division where it can be especially difficult to have a successful season. Add that in with all of the challenges COVID-19 has caused and it’s significantly harder to have that successful season.
The Buford competition cheerleading team has risen to the challenge and has had a good season this year. They came in first place Saturday, Jan. 9, 2021, in a competition at Dacula High School beating out second-place Lanier and third-place finisher Dacula.
“I feel really good about the progress we have made this past week. We made improvements on performance and execution of skills,” said Stacey Schmuhl, head coach of Buford’s competition cheerleading team.
Buford is a young team, having only four seniors and two juniors out of a 20-girl team. It’s rare to see such a young team with the maturity and adaptability this team has shown. The coronavirus has meant that the team is always having to adapt their performances to account for girls who are unable to compete.
“I think our work ethic and flexibility are our best qualities,” Schmuhl said. “This season things change minute to minute with COVID guidelines and these athletes are being asked to adapt at a moment’s notice, which is difficult in cheer and the nature of our sport.”
A team is often a reflection of its senior leadership, and Buford is exactly that. Buford’s competition cheerleading team is led by seniors Callie Snell, Caroline Snell, Jaya Hardy and Mackenzie Buffo. These ladies have been positive role models for their younger teammates.
As with most other high school sports, the competition cheerleading student-athletes will oftentimes compete for both their high school and a team not associated with their school. Approximately half of Buford’s team competes for All-Star Cheer teams in the metro area, which means the girls are double competing. The added experience has been a benefit to Buford’s team.
When asked about Buford’s chances through the rest of the season and postseason, Schmuhl did not want to speculate too much.
“With COVID it is hard to say what the rest of our season will look like as our lineup changes constantly,” she said. “But these girls are incredibly hard workers and have overcome a number of challenges this year and I know we will finish our season with that same work ethic and determination we have been giving since June.”
The squad has just one regular-season competition left before the region competition Feb. 6 that will determine which teams move on to the state competition Feb. 16.
Bottom Row (L-R): Camie Howard, Morgan Sudderth, Callie Snell, Jaya Hardy, Mackenzie Buffo, Caroline Snell, Tori Mitchell, Olivia Johnson, Kendall Kirksey and Kate Harkness. Top Row (L-R): Kinsley Compton, Jessie Perkins, Kristen Mercer, Reese Stanford, Ashlyn Moreland. Gretta Gaspard, Avery Kate Barton, Daniela Ortiz, Abbey Moore and Summer Olsen. Photo courtesy of Stacey Schmuhl.