By Justin Vigil-Zuniga
Signal Sports Writer
Saugus cheer capped off its historic year with an eighth-place finish at the National High School Cheerleading Championships. The varsity and junior varsity teams merged to compete in the NHSCC for the first time in school history.
The Centurions also took home their fifth United Spirit Association national championship and second CIF championship.
Saugus accomplished just about every feat they could after missing out on the previous season due to COVID-19.
The team was faced with obstacles throughout the season, with COVID-19 being their biggest and most consistent bump in the road.
Head coach Candace Rogers and the team constantly found themselves having to redo routines and make last-minute changes due to the athletes being out sick.
Eventually the team adopted the motto, “Be a shark.”
“Sharks can’t go backwards and can’t stop moving,” said Rogers. “To survive, sharks have to keep moving and keep going forward no matter what. That’s what these athletes had to do this year to overcome and finish strong.”
The team could’ve easily pulled out of several competitions, including the CIF championships, with key pieces missing. Saugus somehow found a way every time and kept moving forward, truly living out the “be a shark” mantra.
Rogers had a stressful few days before the CIF competition as the team was forced to change its routine less than 24 hours before the championships. The team adjusted, went out and still won their second CIF title.
The NHSCC was a great experience for the Centurions who got the chance to compete with teams from across the nation.
The Centurions competed six times in three days and were up against more than 50 teams in the traditional division and more than 30 in the game day division. Both routines would make it to the final round.
“It is a lot of pressure to go up against the best in the nation,” said Rogers. “We were blessed to be given the opportunity to go and represent Saugus to the best of our abilities.”
The team has become decorated and will have multiple titles to defend next year.
Rogers aims for more than just the championships and the accolades, though. The head coach wishes to implement accountability, positive attitudes, trusting the process and dedication in all her athletes.
“Most of all, we try to instill values in each of our team members that will carry them through life,” said Rogers. “Saugus cheer has a culture of teaching more than just cheer skill, we teach life skills.”
The expectations will be high for Saugus next year with their head coach’s only goal to be continuing to move forward.
“Our goal every year is to always be better than the year before,” said Rogers.
The Centurions won’t dwell on their past success for long as Rogers heads into her 10th season with Saugus. The squad will look to defend its titles next year and again, not look back and simply try to “be a shark.”