DENVER — Throughout a given school year, the most exposure that fans have to their respective schools spirit teams are what they see on the sidelines during other competitions. The purpose of those teams is to generate excitement and enthusiasm for football, basketball or volleyball teams.
Those in-game cheers and methods of boosting spirit haven't been the performances seen at the annual state spirit competition.
At least until now.
The 2019 state spirit meet featured the debut of the Game Day division. While the championships won't be determined until Saturday, fans at the Denver Coliseum got to see what the new competition was going to bring to the overall meet. And if the reception to those in attendance was any indication, it's a very welcome addition. It's even more welcome considering it allows teams who haven't advanced to state in some time to compete at the highest level regardless of the size of their schools.
That was the case with Sargent, a small school near Monte Vista who competed at state spirit for the first time in 10 years.
"It's pretty big," Breannen Maxwell said. "It's been a really long time since we've been here and in the past years that I've been cheering, we haven't been able to come here so it's just really important. It's awesome that we get to come represent our school."
Of course, one of the biggest challenges whenever there is a new addition to any competition is overcoming the nerves that come with it. There is always that feeling that any addition must be justified.
The way they did that was to simply perform their routines as if they were in front of their home fans at their home stadiums.
"I'm still shaking," Maddy Beirger said.
It's also very much a game-changer, especially for smaller schools. Mondragon points out that in Sargent, tumbling and choreography isn't readily available to her team and if she wants the girls to get that, they have to get to Colorado Springs.
Coach Kaylee Mondragon took advantage of this opportunity to get her team out there and show how they support their fellow student-athletes. And regardless of the placement in the final standings, it's a feeling that she'll never forget sharing with her team.
"It brings what the girls with cheerleaders do on the field or football games to the mat, and they get to get judged and know if they're doing well," she said. "If they're not, it's a big thing. And like I said, it's a big changer for those teams that don't have the tumblers or have small squads like ours."
What the Sargent girls felt at the end of their performance was what every competitor feels at the event. There is no question, that each team wants to bring home state championship hardware, but they're all there to support for each other and see top-level performances.
"I like coming here and having everybody else's support," Beirger said. "All the teams are here to support each other, not just win. And that's just great."