Behind the scenes at the state cheerleading championships

Posted Feb. 19, 2013, at 5:29 a.m.
A cheerleader demonstrates how high she can jump in the stairwell of Bangor Auditorium during the Maine state championships.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
A cheerleader demonstrates how high she can jump in the stairwell of Bangor Auditorium during the Maine state championships. Buy Photo
A cheerleader relaxes in the stands behind the competition mat at the Kennebec Valley Conference tournament. Teams often wait hours for their turn to perform.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
A cheerleader relaxes in the stands behind the competition mat at the Kennebec Valley Conference tournament. Teams often wait hours for their turn to perform. Buy Photo
The Houlton cheerleading team receives a final pep talk from their coach before performing at the Maine state cheerleading championships.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
The Houlton cheerleading team receives a final pep talk from their coach before performing at the Maine state cheerleading championships. Buy Photo
Cheerleading teams practice their routines in Bangor Civic Center behind the auditorium, where the state championships were being held.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
Cheerleading teams practice their routines in Bangor Civic Center behind the auditorium, where the state championships were being held. Buy Photo
A cheerleader waits in the hallway of Bangor Auditorium before her team performs.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
A cheerleader waits in the hallway of Bangor Auditorium before her team performs. Buy Photo
Two cheerleaders hold hands before taking the tumbling mat to perform at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cheerleading competition Jan, 21, 2013.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
Two cheerleaders hold hands before taking the tumbling mat to perform at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cheerleading competition Jan, 21, 2013. Buy Photo
The Hampden cheerleading team huddles before taking the mat at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cheerleading competition.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
The Hampden cheerleading team huddles before taking the mat at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cheerleading competition. Buy Photo
The Mt. Ararat High School cheerleading squad awaits their score following their performance at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cheerleading competition.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
The Mt. Ararat High School cheerleading squad awaits their score following their performance at the Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference cheerleading competition. Buy Photo
Pulling off a stunt during a routine takes a coordinated effort between bases and spotters, those who are on the ground, and the fliers, those who are pushed into the air. It takes an extreme amount of trust to pull off a stunt, Lewiston coach Lynnette Morency said. &quotYou gotta believe those girls below you are focused."
Carter F. McCall | BDN
Pulling off a stunt during a routine takes a coordinated effort between bases and spotters, those who are on the ground, and the fliers, those who are pushed into the air. It takes an extreme amount of trust to pull off a stunt, Lewiston coach Lynnette Morency said. "You gotta believe those girls below you are focused." Buy Photo
The Lewiston High School cheerleading team celebrates after performing at the Maine state championships.
Carter F. McCall | BDN
The Lewiston High School cheerleading team celebrates after performing at the Maine state championships. Buy Photo

The competitive cheerleading season in Maine came to a close last week with the state cheerleading championships in Bangor. For most, cheerleading is seen as an activity reserved for the sidelines. But, for the cheerleaders, coaches and parents involved, competitive cheerleading is as demanding as any sport.

Weeks — sometimes months — of preparation and practice come down to pulling off a three-minute routine in front of a panel of judges.

“It is three minutes to give it all you have got. It is a one-shot deal, one and done,” Lewiston High School cheerleading coach Lynnette Morency said.

On the mat, the focus is on precision and technique. Behind the scenes, emotions run high as cheerleaders try to shake off nervousness and boredom.

“[Competition] teaches the girls to be cool, calm and collective … Everybody has a different stress level,” Deer Isle-Stonington coach Kim Larson said.

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