Saugus cheer brings home CIF, national titles 

Varsity wins first place at USA Nationals in Anaheim. Courtesy of Ally Stuart.
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Saugus High School cheer is celebrating a year of accomplishments, after not only winning first place in the CIF Southern Section on Jan. 20, but also placing first in the team’s division at the CIF Regionals on Jan. 27.  

Saugus varsity also won fourth place in the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship, the biggest cheer competition in the country comprised of over 1,000 teams from around the nation competing, according to Saugus cheer director Ally Stuart. 

The UCA National competition, which took place in Florida Feb. 9-11, saw Saugus compete in the Worlds division, earning third place after competing with many countries from around the world. In addition, the varsity team placed first in the USA Spirit Nationals in Anaheim on Feb. 16 and 17.  

Varsity’s routine at USA Nationals in Anaheim. Courtesy of Ally Stuart.

Saugus coach Candace Rogers, and assistant coaches Charity Dell and Glenna Panarisi, worked closely with the 30 athletes in the program, practicing as early as May and throughout the summer. 

“Competitions begin at the end of October/early November. Between games and practices, competitive athletes often dedicate six days a week to the sport,” Stuart wrote in an email.  

The junior varsity team placed first in both the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championship and the USA Spirit Nationals. According to Rogers, this is the second time JV has been to Florida, and the first time for the team to have ever won a title. 

According to Stuart, Saugus also earned third place in Game Day during the UCA National Championship, the highest rank for Saugus competing after only three years in the division. 

Rogers recognized how determined the students were this year, given that both teams had much more difficult routines than in years past.  

“All of our athletes were determined, motivated and willing to put in the work — they all had the same goal, same vision, and they were willing to do what they needed to do to reach that,” Rogers said. “Both teams had the highest difficulty and highest-scoring routine that Saugus has ever performed.” 

According to Rogers, the athletes were dedicated to putting in the extra work and having a “whatever it takes” mindset to achieve their vision. 

“I’m really proud of the athletes and my fellow coaches. I felt like my captains did a great job of leading their teams, and we made it a priority this year to create a culture that was positive and demanding of everybody,” Rogers said. “They really upheld that and did a really good job of leading everybody to accomplishing their goals this year.” 

Saugus senior Grace Boon, 17, a member of the varsity team, and sophomore Madison Parker, 15, a member of the JV team, reflected on their respective wins. 

“Florida nationals is what we look forward to throughout the entire competition season. That’s all we really talk about the most, and that’s our main focus. We competed in Worlds for the first time,” Boon said. “Competing, especially in Florida, you compete so much on Sunday, and you’re putting all of your energy into a three-, two-and-a-half minute routine. You constantly have to have a bunch of energy on the mat because that’s what we’re known for is having a lot of energy.” 

JV places first in Florida. Courtesy of Ally Stuart.

Boon said that, despite how exhausting cheer can be, the bonding with teammates was the best part. Parker agreed.  

“I would say the best part would be the team bonding because, especially with winning together, it made us feel like a true family,” Parker said. “I think that this year was harder than the rest because they were expecting more from us than they did in the previous years. I’m definitely proud that we won.” 

Boon and Parker credit the win to the help of their coaches. 

“I think our coaches definitely pushed us more than we thought we could, on many different levels. I think if they didn’t push us as hard as they did, we would not have placed as well as we did this year,” Boon said. 

“Our coaches sacrificed a lot for us, and they led us the whole entire way,” Parker said. “They were just so proud of us, even when we didn’t do the best we could, or didn’t get the placements that we would have wanted. They were always there to pick us up and tell us that we did amazing.” 

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