Taking a Leap of Faith: Raider POMS
At football and basketball games, these girls can be seen dancing, shaking their pom poms, laughing, and having fun; however, competition season has approached rapidly and these girls are ready to fight for their spot in the championship.
After winning Grand Champion at last year’s Division II championship, the team was promoted to Division I. The POMS team, sponsored by the Atholton’s dance teacher Ms.Haffey, is prepared for what is sure to be a challenging season. This year POMS is competeing in three qualifying competitions and hope to advance to the championship. After the first competition on January 28th the team placed 2nd out of two teams in the High Kick catergory, yet still qualified for championships. In the Short Pom category, they placed 4th out of six, and even though they did not qualify for championships they still did well for their first Division I competition. Preparing for the next two competitions, the girls are dedicating hours of after school practice in anticipation of the challenge posed by the relentless teams in their division.
“We are going to be in for way more competition this year, and so we are really going to have to work to get to states,” said senior Shelby Johnson, a co-captain. “Every Division I team is really strong, but I feel more rivalry with all of the Howard County teams because obviously I want to be the best in the county.”
POMS incorporates dancing, cheering, and choreography similar to jazz dance. POMS practices on Mondays and Wednesdays from 2:30 – 4:00 working on their skills such as the “AHS letters” and kick line. According to Johnson, the girls have a “banging” kick line which they perfected after long hours of strenuous practice. One of the most difficult kick lines that POM’s has accomplished this year was the pinwheel kickline which was first displayed at the Fall Pep Rally.
“The pinwheel kickline took an incredible amount of focus and time,” said junior Kirsten Clark, a co-captain. “Everyone had to be synchronized and kicking at the same time so that the pinwheel would move accordingly. It was totally worth the practice though because everyone loved it.”
Though for most teams the games are the most stressful, yet exciting, part of the season, POMS anticipates their performances at sporting events only with enthusiasm. Games are a non-stressful time to practice their intense choreography before the judging really counts.
“Games are so much fun, however basketball games are definitely more intimidating because the stands are closer than on the football field,” said Johnson.
After all of the time spent together after school and at sporting events, the girls have developed a close bond with one another. In their free time the girls hang out, have sleepovers, and help each other out in school.
“They are one big family. They always work together, and they always take everyone’s comments and concerns into consideration,” said Ms. Haffey.
Because the girls have a close friendship they are able to try new stunts that in years before had seemed impossible. POMS has been active for five years, but this year the girls believe they are working harder than ever. However, their new found closeness has been as much of a weakness as a strength.
“We are all so comfortable around each other we tend to want to goof off, but it is competition season now, so we have to work harder,” said Clark.
The distractions can be frustrating at times, especially when the girls are trying to concentrate and reach new goals. Fortunately the girls “work well under the pressure,” said Johnson, which they discovered from the lack of time due to interruptions.
The fall and winter season created fun and memorable moments that the girls will always cherish, but now it is the spring season and the first competition is swiftly approaching. On January 28th, POMS will be competing at Marriotts Ridge for the first time as a Division I team.
“Competitions are so stressful. They require a lot more practice and you have to bring the amount of energy that you would use in a week,” said Johnson.
Despite the copious amounts of stress, the end result will be rewarding. No matter how the results of the competition turn out, the experience of performing is rewarding in itself, especially as a new Division I team.
“The wonderful thing [about competitions] is that you can have an incredibly cheesy but fun dance”, said Johnson. “The judges will love you whereas a crowd of high school students would be set on the fact that our costumes do not include pants.”
The girls are excited to see their hard work pay off and to prove to the judges that they belong in Division I. Clark believes that if the girls try hard enough, they can accomplish anything.
“We have the spirit and determination to do anything we put our minds to. Who knows, maybe we’ll stun everyone and make it to the championship.”