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Winners take all

Edison Preparatory School’s pom squads gained national attention by scoring five first-place wins at the 2012 state championship.

Edison Preparatory School’s sixth- through ninth-grade and varsity pom teams placed first at the state 
championship in December. Edison is the first Oklahoma high school in the past 16 years to receive first place in every category its program entered.

Edison Preparatory School’s sixth- through ninth-grade and varsity pom teams placed first at the state championship in December. Edison is the first Oklahoma high school in the past 16 years to receive first place in every category its program entered.

Long practices. Hard work. Injuries. Determination. Time. Effort. All words that can be used to describe the experience of high school athletes who wish to compete on a championship stage.

But all that work pays. A prime example? Edison Preparatory School’s pom squads. In December 2012, Edison’s sixth- to ninth-grade and varsity pom squads all placed first at the Oklahoma State Dance Team Championship.

However, when most people think of the sport of pom, they picture cute girls in short skirts waving pom-poms. This perception is one the pom squads of Edison want to change.

Sarah Ivie, who has coached local pom teams since she was a sophomore in high school, came to Edison with the hope of building the program and bringing recognition to the sport.

Edison pom originated in 2004 with seven girls. Under Ivie’s direction, the Edison pom program has 35 middle school and 26 high school team members. With this large group, Ivie continues to foster the spirit of teamwork to ensure the squads work together for a common goal: to win.

With intense practice schedules (13 hours per week for the high school team) as well as competitions, the time and effort required to compete in the sport of pom can be overwhelming without a strong support system.

To help alleviate some of the stress, Ivie has the teams participate in team-building activities to encourage relationships, such as asking varsity team members to “adopt” a member of one of the younger teams to help them with dances and conditioning, as well as to enjoy fun, after-school activities.

Senior Tabitha Van Schenck describes it as having “families within our team; each of us has a ‘little sister’ on our squad. We’ll text them, see if they want to grab some ice cream or just hang out.”

“Having the high school girls involved in the middle school program promotes the program as a whole,” Ivie says. “It inspires the younger girls to want to be better and be just like the older girls.”

With Ivie’s help, the Edison pom squads have gained state attention as the first Oklahoma high school team in the past 16 years to receive a first-place victory in every category its program entered.

“It’s been four years since Edison’s varsity pom squad has won state, and it’s the first time in Oklahoma that any school’s teams have won state in so many categories at one time,” Ivie says.

Senior Mariel Cline remembers the championship day vividly.

“Going into state, we had been practicing so hard because we knew our competition would be really tough,” she says. “We knew we had to be on our A-game to win, and it motivated us to do our best. I remember when the announcement was made that varsity won state, I couldn’t stop crying.”

The varsity first-place win was the final announcement at the state championship, completing the sweep for Edison. The student body’s excitement was overwhelming.

“The whole school was congratulating us,” recalls senior Arianna Cole. “Even on Twitter the night after we won, our classmates and friends were going crazy.”

The teams went on to compete at the national championship. The varsity and freshmen teams competed in Orlando, Fla., Feb. 2-3. The varsity team placed 25th out of 77 teams, and the freshmen placed ninth. The eighth-grade team went to nationals in Fort Worth, Texas, Feb. 9-10, placing first.

The seniors on the varity squad credit Ivie for their win and subsequent trip to nationals.

“Pom is what we love to do, and Sarah is a big part of why we’re so inspired to work hard,” Cline says.

Cole adds, “If Sarah didn’t coach us, most of us wouldn’t be doing this. We all love the sport, but our team wouldn’t be the team it is without her. She’s definitely our motivator.”

Ivie simply wants her girls to be recognized as the athletes and champions they are.

“It’s nice for the other sports teams at Edison to see the pom squads practicing, and as we get stronger ... and the program builds, the school is starting to recognize these girls as athletes,” she says.

“These girls work so hard, and all you want as a coach is for your teams to feel success and have the acknowledgement from other people that they are the best.”

                    

 

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Justin Fuente

Justin Fuente

Head football coach, University of Memphis