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The Hesston Record
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Hesston, KS 67062
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July 12, 2018 Hesston RecordJuly 12, 2018 Hesston Record

Swather Cheer Brings Home Trophies, 3 Earn All American Spots

Posted 6/22/2017

Record Staff

Last week 10 girls and one adult piled into a van to spend a week at Butler Community College for summer cheer camp.

During the week-long camp, Swather cheer girls learned new routines and bonded as the 2017-2018 Swather Cheer Squad. The girls, however, were without their regular coach, Nicole Roth, who gave birth to a daughter just days prior to camp. 

Michelle Critchfield, a former Swather cheerleader, stepped in and accompanied the girls as their sponsor.

“Nicole Roth reached out to me this spring to see if I would be interested in taking the squad, because her baby was due to arrive around the week of cheer camp,” she said.

Critchfield was already familiar with many of the 10 squad members before heading to Butler.  

“I had most of the girls in class from substitute teaching at the high school this spring, so I already knew most of them.  As a former cheerleader and someone who loves the sport, I really wanted to help in any way that I could, including taking the team to camp,” said Critchfield.

Senior cheerleaders Sarah Teeter and Kayla Ewert said Critchfield “rocked” as a stand-in coach.

“She has a great cheer background. She knew everything we were supposed to hear and coached us.  She also had fun with us when it was time to have fun,” said Ewert.

Critchfield cheered as a Swather her junior and senior years. She then cheered at Baker College for four-and-a-half years and served as captain for two years.  Critchfield’s collegiate team performed at NCA Nationals three of Critchfield’s four years.

Teeter said Critchfield’s experience helped the girls work through a gruling week of dancing, stunting and learning new routines.

“We learn a lot of new material and it really helps the girls come together and learn how we work together. And, it teaches the new girls how things are going to look for the season,” said Teeter.

During a week of intense 12-hour days, Ewert said she came away more confident than ever in the Swather squad.

“I think this was my favorite camp experience. It wasn’t the camp that was different, the group was different. We have a bond I’ve never seen before and that really made the experience for me.

“I’m looking forward to what we can accomplish. Our group is so talented. Last year at camp during the Extreme Routine we were struggling with an elevator folddown; we were stressing over that. This year we didn’t even sweat a flip into a lift. The talent is totally different,” she said.

Teeter added the flyers in the group are incredibly talented with new cheerleader

Faia Fry “picking up on it really easily.”

However, all three ladies said cheer camp is a physically and mentally tough week for cheerleaders and their coaches.

“The staffers taught the team so many new stunts and skills in such a short amount of time. It was difficult to be able to try - for the first time - and then practice all of the enw stunts during stunt class each day,” said Critchfield.

Teeter said 12-hour days of non-stop cheer is as much a mental challenge as physical.

“It’s exhausting. You don’t get many breaks so everyone is tired. So, pushing through the tiredness is the main thing,” she said.

However, Ewert said she was on the receiving end of the physical challenges more than once.

“I took a foot to the face. I took a complete fall - I was the backspot and everyone else stepped out and it was just me under her,” she said.

However, the pain and exhaustion are part of making the team stronger and preparing for the fall season.

“Our main goal is to support Hesston and lead the community and get them involved.  I want them to appreciate that’s what we’re doing. We want them to participate with us. We’re not just there for people to watch, we want people to cheer with us and get people going,” said Ewert.