Varsity Spirit’s Game Day Championship, showcasing the best sideline and crowd-leading material that teams have to offer, has found its way to the Texas University Interscholastic League (UIL) and Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA).
The UIL launched its two-year Game Day pilot program in 2016 at the Spirit State Championships, while the KSHSAA is scheduled to host its first event in November at the 2017 KSHSAA Game Day Spirit Showcase Competition.
“I believe the KSHSAA member schools, cheer coaches, cheerleaders and parents are extremely excited about the new opportunities for spirit in Kansas. There is a lot of buzz among our spirit participants,” said Craig Manteuffel, KSHSAA assistant executive director. “I feel contracting with Varsity Spirit to run our event is an excellent choice and we look forward to a professionally administered competition next fall.”
In both states, the Game Day competition is made up of three events. Each team is expected to perform a fight song, a band dance and lead the crowd. Teams are encouraged to use crowdleading tools such as signs, poms, flags and/or megaphones during their routine.
“The announcer will give the squad a game scenario, indicating whether it is offense or defense, and each team has to respond and do an appropriate, crowd-leading cheer in response to that,” said Kate Hector, UIL media coordinator.
Six divisions make up the event for the Kansas and Texas member schools. Divisions 1A and 2A feature a maximum of 12 participants, 3A and 4A have a maximum of 20 participants, and 5A and 6A boast 30 participants. Two or fewer males are allowed in Divisions 1A through 4A, while three or fewer males are permitted in 5A and 6A.
Coed divisions are also in place for the event, with the small coed division (Divisions 1A-4A) allowing a maximum of 20 participants that have three or more males. The large coed division (5A and 6A) grants teams at least 30 participants, which can include four or more males.
Hector said after preliminaries, the top 20 teams advance to the finals, and then a champion is crowned in each division.
Teams are asked to refrain from performing basket, sponge or elevator tosses (cradles are dismounts, not tosses), inversions, twisting dismounts from stunts, and running tumbling. Single-leg extended stunts are limited to liberties and liberty hitches, while standing tumbling is limited to one skill. The rules state that the back tuck is the most elite permitted tumbling skill.
The KSHSAA’s decision to adopt the Game Day showcase occurred after speaking with UIL Executive Director Dr. Charles Breithaupt last year, shortly after the UIL’s inaugural championship took place. KSHSAA Executive Director Gary Musselman took additional steps to add the event with research through Varsity Spirit before attending the 2016 Game Day National Championship in Orlando, Florida.
“Kansas has needed an event for our cheerleaders to showcase their talents,” Manteuffel said. “We believe the Game Day format focuses on what high school cheerleading is all about, which is the Friday night game, under the lights, leading the crowd as your team competes on the playing surface.”
Hector said 435 UIL-member schools participated in the 2017 Spirit State Championships, which took place in January. While there’s no regular-season competition, she noted that games, pep rallies and other similar activities make for good practice heading into the state championships.
For more information on the UIL Spirit Game Day State Championships, visit www.uiltexas.org/spirit/game-day-pilotprogram-faq.
Cody Porter is a graphic arts/communications assistant in the NFHS Publications/Communications Department.