James Clemens Competition Cheer Team takes fourth state title

MADISON – For the fourth consecutive year, the Competition Cheerleading Team at James Clemens High School has claimed the State Championship for Class 7A Varsity with the Alabama High School Athletic Association or AHSAA.

The young women are proudly claiming the state title with their “4-Peat” T-shirts (not just a ‘repeat’ but a ‘4-peat’ for four titles).

“With this year, our seniors have won a state title every year! This is a huge accomplishment, especially for divisions we compete in,” Competition Cheerleading Coach Hannah Stockman said. Stockman teaches English 9 and photography at James Clemens.

The AHSAA State Cheerleading Competition divides teams into divisions, based on their school size. “We competed in Varsity 7A against all of the 7A Varsity teams in the state that qualified,” Stockman said. Every school with a cheerleading program can compete at state. Teams first compete in a qualifier for south, central or north Alabama and must score above 65 percent.

James Clemens’ award-winning routine included standing tumbling, running tumbling, jumps, partner stunts, pyramids, a cheer, a dance, execution of all elements listed and difficulty of all elements listed.

The association allows teams to create their routines. However, James Clemens goes a step further. “Most schools pay for a choreographer to make a routine, but James Clemens coaches Blake Lane, Pat Ballew, Cheerville Athens and I create traditional routines for our teams,” Stockman said.

That procedure not only saves thousands of dollars but allows James Clemens Cheerleading to change routines as the teams grow. “Every competition routine looks different. That gives them another set of skills they can take into the real world (adapting to change, learning fast, active listening),” Stockman said.

For music, the squad must use original mixes so they pay their music mixer (Cheer.fm, Jesse Spitzer). “Jessie has been curating our music for over five years,” Stockman said. They give Jesse a vision of songs to play, when and how to catch the audience’s attention while matching skills.

This list organizes the cheerleaders by grade: Freshmen — Gabby Dickerson, Cate Downs, Zoe Godine, Lauren Johnson, Camryn Lomack, Sophia Smith, Peighton Stevenson and Dion Thomas; Sophomores — Hannah Bruce, Maddie Hayden, Emma Jones, Amelia Koerlin, Kaitlyn Stone, Haley Swafford, Bella Tejeda and Parker Wrobel; Juniors — Katy Bennefield, De’Nazia Griffin, Julia Ingalls, Sydney Snodgrass, Malikah Stowe and Kaylee Tucker; and Seniors — Kenze Achenbach, Whitney Bailey, Paris Dryer, Alexis Ivy, Perri McMahan, Kiersten Ratcliff, Gabbie Russell, Katie Russell and Ella Thomas.

Stockman has served as the team’s Head Coach for four seasons. “I love this job. It’s truly my passion. I grew up cheerleading, but being a coach is a whole other ballgame,” Stockman said.

Booster parents support the team year-round. Boosters’ responsibilities cover football season (tailgating, stadium decorating and parades), fundraising for 350-plus hours and competition season.

“We always have a great support group (for) football and competitions. We are LOUD . . . a testament to our commitment to our girls, coaches and James Clemens,” Stockman said.

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