Both Bolivar’s high school and middle school cheer squads competed in Missouri Cheerleading Coaches Association competitions this past month. The varsity squad is set to return later this month to contend for a state championship.
With the middle school squad not having competed in over 20 years, and the high school squad having not been back for two years, changes have been underway to prepare the two squads for their time on the mat.
The first of many changes is in the coaching staff. Bolivar’s head cheer coach is now Matthew Massey. While speaking of his 17 years of coaching experience, Massey also mentioned how he was previously the head cheer coach at Republic, coaching there for five years and being the choreographer for seven years.
Massey said he also worked with numerous other squads in Missouri to choreograph routines for them.
Now at Bolivar, Massey says he has 41 athletes to get ready for competition, including 15 in middle school, 12 on JV and 14 on varsity. Thankfully, he said, he isn’t alone. He also has the help of assistant coach Abby Trammel.
Together the coaching staff has been working on making improvements. Consistency, Massey said, “is the main thing.”
He said the squads have been “staying consistent in how we warm-up, practice, going back over the basics and getting our technique fixed to be able to work the elements we want to put into the routine.”
Massey also mentioned his goals for the squads going into the competition.
“I want them to hit,” he said. “I want them to have fun and make a lot of memories.”
Three seniors are on the varsity squad — Elizabeth Wooderson, Dani Davis and Jenna Roberts. The trio were all were in agreement in saying, “it’s not necessarily about winning but coming together as a team.”
“Win together, lose together we are a team,” Davis said.
When asked their favorite part about this year's squads, in particular, Wooderson said she was excited “to see how far we’ve come, because sometimes it doesn’t feel like we will ever be that good, but now we are finally getting to experience it.”
“We’ve built ourselves up to this moment, and now we’re super prepared now that we have Massey,” she added.
Roberts also gave credit to the coaching staff.
“The coaches have been really good at teaching us proper technique,” she said.
Now because of this, her stunt group “is so great,” she said.
Overall, Davis talked about how the hardest part of this season has been the “mental block.”
“We have the ability to win,” she said. “we are good enough. We have the skill set. We just have to get over the mental block to be able to be like, ‘Yeah we are winners.’”
Both squads successfully got over that mental block and competed at MCCA regionals.
The middle school squad competed on Sunday, Oct. 20, in Kansas City. They placed second overall. Massey was very proud of his middle athletes, saying “they did really well.”
The varsity squad then competed the following Sunday, Oct. 27, in the small coed division at MCCA regionals in St.Louis where they placed third overall and in the top 80% of the squads that competed.
Because of this, the varsity squad will now advance on to compete for a state championship Nov.16-17 at Lindenwood University.
Massey said he is very confident in his athletes and their abilities.
“Ideally, I want a state championship,” he said. “... They can win. They have the talent to win. It just comes down to their mindset and mentally of whether they can win or cannot win.”