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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Tuesday, April 16, 2024
The Echo

Competitive cheer takes third at conference

Trojans ended year with a season-high score

The Taylor University co-ed competitive cheer team finished their 2024 season at the Crossroads League Championships on March 9. 

The Trojans placed third with an overall score of 84.82.

The team started the day with a season-high score of 84.33, earned in the preliminary round of the competition. 

The Trojans showed up and proved themselves to their competitors in the final round, where they received a score of 84.98, setting a season-high twice in one day. 

Head coach Hannah Kirby has been with the program since its founding in 2020.

“She has done a tremendous job of building up our program… a lot of people on the team had never cheered before,” senior flyer Emma-Kate Moore said. “She's great at seeing what our strengths are, seeing what our weaknesses are; building upon those, and creating a routine that can maximize our scores and get us the farthest.”

Earlier this season, the Trojans claimed their first title win in program history at their home invitational in Odle Arena with a final score of 83.4. 

Senior base Caroline Ray said that even though the win wasn’t their best performance, it was still rewarding to know that their hard work had paid off, even with some of the struggles along the way. Being in front of their home crowd made the moment even more memorable for the Trojans. 

“The fact that it was senior night, and it was at home… and my parents were there, all the way from Colorado, it felt special because that was the first and only time they will ever be able to see me perform in person,” Ray said. 

Multiple team members received All-Crossroads League Honors. 

Moore earned first-team, followed by junior Emma Barile, sophomores David Musser and Jackson Martin, and freshman Ryan Kalopisis who all earned second-team. 

Moore originally came to Taylor to join the women’s soccer team. However, when the former club cheer team leveled up to a competition team, Moore knew she needed to reach out to coach Kirby. 

“(Moore’s) energy was just contagious on the team, and I think it's what we needed at the hardest parts of the season,” Ray said. 

The Trojans are parting ways with three seniors, Moore, Ray and Annabel Boatwright. 

Boatwright had never cheered before she joined the Trojans. She was previously a gymnast and dancer and wasn’t sure if cheer was something she would stick with. Now, finding herself in her final year on the team, she said she ended up loving it.

Ray and Moore both said that Boatwright is the best encourager on the team and an incredibly solid friend and teammate. 

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen her without a smile,” Moore said. “She always comes up to you and just tells you how proud she is of you, or that the skill that you did looked amazing. I've never once heard something negative come of her mouth.”

Boatwright shared that for the past couple of summers, she has spent time working in children’s homes in Honduras. She has always dreamed of teaching at the Christian school the children attend, and after graduation, she will be doing just that.  

“(It’s) really cool to see how God's been leading me and drawing my heart towards that for so many years, and his faithfulness and ways that he's been preparing me,” Boatwright said. 

Ray, the final senior, joined the team for their 2021 season after transferring from Colorado State. 

Moore said Ray is the “glue of the team” adding that everyone looks up to her because she is such a strong leader. 

As the seniors reflected on their final season competing with the Trojans, they all mentioned one game day tradition that will leave a lasting and sentimental memory. 

Before the Trojans take the mat, they stand in a circle, lock pinkies and pray with each other.

“I think that is a very powerful moment because we're all nervous and there are things we're worried about,” Boatwright said. “But we are uniting and surrendering it to the Lord, and just re-centering on him and remembering that God has given us this gift to be able to do all these cool things.”

With the final amen, the Trojans run out onto the floor after their team chant. 

“TU, bring the war, Team Four!”