2016-05-12 / News

Local team wins national cheering summit

By Ben Meiklejohn
Staff Writer


A cheerleading team, called #dream, from Maine Stars Cheer Gym in Eliot, won the first-ever national D2 Summit last week in the Youth Large Level 2 division. They are the first Maine cheering team to win a national summit. (Courtesy photo) A cheerleading team, called #dream, from Maine Stars Cheer Gym in Eliot, won the first-ever national D2 Summit last week in the Youth Large Level 2 division. They are the first Maine cheering team to win a national summit. (Courtesy photo) BIDDEFORD – Two Biddeford Intermediate School students returned to Maine last week as cheerleading champions of the D2 Summit, held in Tampa, Florida.

Sisters Brittany Baumgardner, 11, and Ashley Baumgardner, 9, competed in the summit as part of an all-star team trained by Maine Stars Cheer Gym in Eliot. The contest was an inaugural event for the D2 Summit, created as a spin-off of the Varsity All Star Summit, which has been held in Orlando, Florida since 1974. The two summits were held on the same weekend.

Cathy Cline, the Baumgardners’ mother, said her daughters have been cheering for three years, but took on an 11-month commitment at Maine Stars Cheer Gym, practicing two to three times a week and then competing from February to May. The girls started out cheering with the Biddeford Youth Cheering Association, but started attending the Eliot gym last year to bring their skills to a new level and participate in more competitions, Cline said.


Ashley Baumgardner, 9, and Brittany Baumgardner, 11, of Biddeford, won a national cheering tournament at the D2 Summit in Tampa, Florida last week. The girls are part of team #dream, with Maine Stars Cheer Gym in Eliot. (Courtesy photo) Ashley Baumgardner, 9, and Brittany Baumgardner, 11, of Biddeford, won a national cheering tournament at the D2 Summit in Tampa, Florida last week. The girls are part of team #dream, with Maine Stars Cheer Gym in Eliot. (Courtesy photo) “These kids miss several events, birthday parties, school functions, all to be a part of this team,” Cline said.

Their team, titled “#dream” and affectionately called, “the dream team,” is one of three teams from the gym to compete at D2 Summit. Cline said #dream is the first cheerleading team from Maine to win a national summit.

“These girls put Maine on the map,” said Cline. “It may not seem much for some, but for anyone who cheers both past, present and future, this is huge. They are literally the first team to ever win a Summit Championship in the state of Maine; they will forever be ‘historic’ in the eyes of cheerleaders, especially Maine one.”

The summit consisted of 490 teams, 1,300 coaches and more than 9,000 athletes from 46 states. The #dream team won the Youth Large Level 2 category of competition, for ages 6 to 11. To get to the D2 Summit, a team has to first be invited after receiving a high score at a qualifying event. The team competed in Boston, Lowell and Worcester, Massachusetts; Rhode Island; Syracuse, New York and Myrtle Beach, South Carolina before finally heading to Tampa for the inaugural summit.

To compete in the Youth Large level, a team must have more than 25 cheerleaders; #dream has 27 members from New England. Teams from gyms in Lewiston and Westbrook also competed at the summit.

The team was coached by gym owner Lori McPherson, Kelsey Leighton and Morgan Schoff. Two other teams from the gym also made the final rounds of the tournament, landing in fourth and fifth places.

McPherson said the D2 Summit was created this year by the National Small Program Association for gyms who have 125 members or less. Cline said the Varsity All Star Summit is open to gyms of all sizes but is typically dominated by the largest gyms because they have more talent to draw from.

“The fact that they were able to win the best in their division for small programs was quite amazing,” McPherson said. “They had a great season all year long and we certainly didn’t think we’d go to Tampa to win it all, but they did.”

McPherson said the group of cheerleaders on team #dream have a special connection and she hopes to keep that group together in the future.

“I always kind of describe them as little sponges, where they take in all you have to give them and they apply it,” said McPherson. “There are some big gyms out there that are good and excellent but we’ve got a good thing going … Even to make it (to the summit) is a huge thing.”

In July, a ring ceremony will be held when the girls will be given their championship rings with gym members and their families in attendance.

“The greatest thing about (Maine Stars Cheer Gym) is that they are a family,” Cline said. “You spend more time with them than your family.”

Tryouts for the gym begin this month and in July, the teams will work on their choreographies and practice them through February.

Cline said she was never a cheerleader herself but supports whatever her daughters are interested in. The family has a trampoline, tumbling mats and “everything you could think of” that would be needed for cheering. Cline said the family has always enjoyed football and the girls became interested in cheering from watching football games.

Cline said her daughter Ashley, who is usually reserved, was overjoyed and crying when #dream won the tournament.

“She said it was the best day of her life. It was cute because she’s only 9 and I told her, ‘You’re still going to have many more best days’” Cline said, “but it was touching to see how much it meant to them.”

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