By Steve Williams
The show must go on!
Bearden High School’s award-winning dance program will have a team participating in the 2020-21 TSSAA Championships, which will be conducted in an online “virtual” format this school year due to COVID-19.
Farragut and West Valley middle schools also have registered for the Dance Championships, said Trina Melton of the TSSAA Friday. There are no teams from Knoxville registered in the Cheer Championships, added Melton.
The TSSAA Championships recognize middle and high school cheer and dance teams in 35 categories of competition and are normally held in December of each school year.
TSSAA worked with the Universal Cheerleaders Association for several months to identify a suitable venue for holding the championships in person, but ultimately decided to hold the event virtually using UCA’s online competition system.
Teams will film their routine in their own gym, football stadium or other facility with an NFHS-approved surface. Once recorded, teams will upload the video file of their routine to Varsity TV. No special equipment or software is required as coaches can simply film the team’s routine on their smartphone or other camera.
A UCA / UDA trained judging panel will score the routines just as they would at an in-person event. The deadline for all video uploads is Wednesday (Feb. 24).
The TSSAA Cheer and Dance Virtual State Championships will then be available to the general public to watch on-demand on Varsity TV beginning March 6. Each team will receive one FREE one-month subscription to watch.
Bearden and Farragut high schools and Farragut Middle School brought home multiple state titles from the last Cheerleading and Dance Championships at MTSU in Murfreesboro on Dec. 7, 2019.
Bearden’s dance team took first place in the Medium Varsity Jazz and Medium Varsity Pom categories.
Bearden has captured 11 state titles in all and seven consecutive Jazz titles.
Farragut took top honors in Small Varsity Jazz and Small Varsity Pom.
Farragut Middle School took state titles in Jazz and Pom.
Packer is interim dance coach at FHS
Presley Packer, the new interim dance coach at Farragut, said “unfortunately” the FHS team will not be competing in this year’s state championships.
“We’ve had three head coaches in the span of one year, along with COVID restrictions and multiple injuries on the team, so hearing that State was going to happen in a few weeks unfortunately didn’t sound like a doable endeavor for this season,” explained Packer. “As of now we are just preparing for next year.”
Packer was a member of the Farragut dance team in high school and is nearing her senior year at UT.
She noted that the Farragut High team did dance at every home football game this year and multiple basketball games earlier in the season.
“We have continued to practice every week throughout the year, however, to keep our skill level up and prepare for next year. This team is definitely used to competition and performance being a normal part of their lives, so it has been disappointing to have to sacrifice some of that this season due to a number of circumstances, but it will only make us appreciate it that much more in the future.”
Farragut took top honors in Small Varsity Jazz and Small Varsity Pom in the 2019 TSSAA Championships. At the UDA Nationals, Farragut finished second in the Small Pom category and third in the Small Jazz category.
Cheer teams won’t compete at state
Bearden and Farragut’s cheer teams won’t be competing in the TSSAA’s virtual format this year.
“We were going to compete this fall (in December), but given the Governor’s Orders and TSSAA continuing to give no date for our competition previously, we assumed that our season was over,” said Farragut Cheer Coach Nicole Pendleton.
“Truly, it breaks my heart. We have such an incredibly talented team that would have fought for a National title. I’m sad that our girls’ talent isn’t being able to be showcased this year.
“Unfortunately, I have eight seniors that will add this to another “missed opportunity” for the year. However, we are grateful for what we are able to do this year.”