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Burnet High School cheerleaders showing the state who has spirit

Burnet High School cheerleaders

The Burnet High School cheerleaders are competing in the University Interscholastic League’s Spirit State Championships at the Fort Worth Convention Center on Friday, Jan. 14. Their preliminary round performance is at 9:05 a.m. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

The Burnet High School cheerleaders are taking the stage against 40 other squads at the University Interscholastic League’s Class 4A Division I Spirit State Championship on Friday, Jan. 14, at the Fort Worth Convention Center, 1201 Houston St. They perform in the preliminary round at 9:05 a.m. The finals are later that day.

The state contests Jan. 13-15 feature more than 200 teams in 1A through 6A divisions from across the state. 

The Burnet squad has been working toward state since last spring.

“At Burnet High School, our cheerleaders start to come together in April and May for the next year,” said cheerleading coach Cindy Roberts. 

The squad holds a summer practice before cheer camp. During camp, cheerleaders learn stunting skills, routines, and cheers for the upcoming year.

The squad returns to campus a few weeks before school starts in August for extended practices, which continue once classes begin. Cheerleaders perform during pep rallies and football and basketball games as well as in parades and other community events.

“During this time, we are also preparing for competitions and fulfilling our community service acts in the Burnet community,” Roberts said. 

In September, the Burnet squad worked with a professional choreographer in creating a routine for competition.

The squad consists of the varsity and junior varsity teams. Roberts hopes to take 16 girls to the state contest along with two managers, though COVID-19 safety protocols could reduce the number of competitors to 15.

The team has faced injuries and illnesses this year, Roberts said, but despite the challenges, the girls have worked hard and supported one another. It’s a lesson she hopes they will take with them beyond the stage on Friday.

“This year, more than anything, I want them to learn perseverance through adversity,” Roberts said. “I want them to grow individually and to realize that, even when times get rough and you might have to change plans, you stick it out and do your best.”

Roberts has watched her squad handle tough times and keep going.

“I want them to know how proud I am of them as their coach,” she said. “I am proud of their willingness to not only work hard — we work hard all year — but for their flexibility and strength in our mental mindset when we hit obstacles in our path.”

The UIL Spirit State Championships are open to the public. Tickets are $15 and available online.

The NFHS Network offers a live stream of the championships with an annual or monthly subscription. 

While cheerleaders support other teams and organizations most of the year, the spotlight will be on them this weekend.

“I feel that the state championships are important because it gives the girls a legitimate outlet to showcase their skills and hard work,” Roberts said. “They get to come together with squads from around the state and compete (with) their game-day skills.”