ORLANDO, Fla. — The AYS Aces, Acadian Youth Sports’ cheer squad, finished in second place in their division at The Quest this weekend, a national recreational cheer championship held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports complex on March 10 and 11.
The team performed well on day one of the competition, coming out ahead of all their competition in the semifinal round.
“It was a big, uplifting moment for us,” said coach Jenny Saunders, who watched her team score an 84.67 to finish ahead of the only other school in their division – the St. Cecilia School Cougars from Rhode Island. “It gave the kids some energy going into day two.”
Unfortunately for the Aces, the slate is wiped clean going into the final round. And despite the fact that the team improved their score by two points on day two, the Cougars fixed some of their mistakes from day one and took home the championship with a score of 87.07.
“It’s still a phenomenal achievement for the kids,” said Saunders of the second-place finish. “This is the first year that I’ve ever done this type of team.”
Historically, the Aces have participated in a competition run by the Maine Youth Cheerleading Coaches Association. The team received their bid to The Quest after winning at the Varsity All Star JAMFest event in Springfield, Mass., two weeks earlier.
“The first year we ever did a varsity team and we went and competed in Springfield and earned a bid to a national competition with teams from all over the country …,” Saunders said. “They did a great job.”
While they spent a lot of time preparing and performing in the competition, the members of the team were also able to take a few moments to enjoy themselves thanks to generous support from the community and sponsors who helped make the trip possible.
“The kids had a great opportunity to hang out together,” said Saunders. “With the sponsors that gave money, we were able to rent a 10-bedroom house so the kids stayed together. They’ve had a blast … Who doesn’t want to go to Florida and hang out with their friends?”
Their bid to The Quest also came with passes to Disney World, giving a lot of kids a chance to experience something they may never had gotten to do otherwise.
Saunders was also thankful for the exposure the event gave the kids to what the sport of cheer can be like beyond what they are used to.
“Performing on that kind of stage, with all of those people there watching, they never would have gotten that experience at home,” said Saunders. “I’m glad they got the opportunity to see what cheerleading is like outside of Maine.”