When the Sumner High cheerleading team won the first Class C state championship in program history earlier this winter, there wasn’t any doubt the Tigers wanted to participate in the New England championships.
Even if it meant another month-plus of practice.
“At first, when we went to states, some of them were kind of like, ‘do we really want to keep cheering for another month?’ [but] then when they won there was no question,” said coach Monica Chipman.
So much so that the Tigers have held a couple of fundraisers over the last two weeks, and have raised more than $3,000 to go to the March 20 competition in Providence, R.I.
The top three teams in each class qualified, so that means Dexter and Central of Corinth from Class C, Poland, Ellsworth and Hermon in Class B, Central Aroostook of Mars Hill, Deer Isle-Stonington and Buckfield in Class D and Biddeford, Lewiston and Bangor in Class A also punched tickets.
Chipman said that the school is paying for her team’s hotel accommodations and meal arrangements, but the Tigers raised the money so they could travel to Rhode Island in a Cyr motorcoach bus and purchase team sweatshirts and travel suits.
She was surprised at how much money was raised at the dinner and auction.
“It was a huge deal. We were very shocked that we raised that much,” Chipman said.
Sumner was also slated to host a 1980s-theme dance in Gouldsboro last Friday, but Mother Nature had other plans.
“Because of the big storm, we lost power so the school was on generator,” Chipman said.
School officials then told her that power wouldn’t be restored for a couple of days, so the event had to be cancelled.
“We definitely made up for it with our dinner and auction and bottle drive from last weekend,” Chipman said.
Due to different regulations at the New England competitions, the Tigers have had to completely change their routine.
“You have to do a minute-long cheer and you can only have 90 seconds of music, so we have revamped our whole routine,” Chipman said.
“We’ve added some more different stunting and a different pyramid and a different cheer. The cheer has stunting involved in it, some different tumbling, more advanced tumbling, different skills and stuff.” Sumner, which features a 16-member squad with one male team member, will be entered in the coed division.
The team is relishing the chance to compete.
“I think they’re going into it with an open mind,” Chipman said. “I mean, it is a huge competition and they looked at the scores and stuff from last year so they’re a little nervous about doing it, but the bottom line is its such a great opportunity and such a good experience.”
The team and its coach — who works three 12-hour shifts a week as a registered nurse at Mount Desert Island Hospital in Bar Harbor — are putting in a ton of practice and fundraising time.
“They’ve been working hard, putting in long days and not only fundraising, but they’ve even put donation cans in local stores and stuff like that,” Chipman said.
Sumner’s roster is made up of Jacob Backman — the team’s lone senior — juniors Jalisa Patten, Haley Sandstrom, Brianna Bishko, Jordan Rivers, Maria Lockhart, Emily Ingalls, Brooke Raynor, Jordan Knowles, Sarah Frost, Ashtyn Thomas, Kelsey Martin and Whitney Doughty; sophomore Ashley Andrews and freshmen Josie Barker and Alexandria Tracy.
The magnitude of the moment still hasn’t completely sunk in.
“It still doesn’t even feel real, to me or to them,” Chipman said. “It’s kind of just like, oh my goodness, to win Eastern Maines and go down there to take the state title is pretty impressive.”