By Jim Sullivan
---- — AMESBURY -- For a gym that is only 6 years old, Amesbury’s All That Cheer & Tumble has really been making a name for itself, both locally and nationally as two of their teams each finished third in the nation for their divisions at the Summit All Star Cheering event at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, Fla., May 4 and 5.
“The feeling for (the kids) and for us as coaches is frankly indescribable,” said Senior 4.2 Platinum Stars coach Kristen Almquist. “To watch your kids execute the routine the way that they were meant to, and to have 31 girls gel as one unit is truly an amazing thing to watch unfold at any level. It makes everything worth it. They left it all on the mat.”
Both Almquist’s Platinum Stars and coach Cara Wilson’s Diamond Senior 3 team placed third among over 300 others from across the country. The Diamond Senior 3 team received a paid bid to Orlando, while the Platinum Stars got an at-large invite bid.
“It’s quite difficult to get bids to go,” said Almquist. “So to get a bid as early as we did in January is actually very good. It’s very telling of how good our program was, even in January. So we were in a very good place heading into the Summit in May.”
Made up of 33 girls ages 11 to 18 from across the North Shore, including the Amesbury, Triton, Pentucket and Newburyport school systems, the Platinum Stars spend their almost year-long season writing and honing their 2 1/2 minute routine. But when it comes to a situation like the Summit, all that preparation, all that planning comes down to 2 1/2 minutes.
“I think it’s a little bit more stressful for the coach sometimes,” said Almquist. “You do all this work to get them towards that level, and then all of a sudden, you have to let them go. It’s kind of like parenting sometimes. You have kids, and you have to let them go, and you have to cross your fingers and hope everything turns out OK. Once they are performing, all you can do is watch.”
Day one of the two-day competition didn’t go quite as well as the Platinum Stars had hoped. Par for the course, according to Almquist. But the two All That Cheer teams still qualified for the finals on day two, which was a different story.
“After day one, they kind of made a pact with themselves,” Almquist said. “They wanted to leave with no regrets. They wanted to come off the mats and no matter where they placed, they wanted to have no regrets. And they had their best routine of the season on day two. From a coach’s standpoint, that is the best thing in the world.”
With over 150 athletes, the All That Cheer All-Star program also sent their Mini, Youth, Junior 2 and Senior 1 teams to Providence, R.I., on May 4 to compete in the regional finals. Tryouts for next season begin next week.
“I’m really proud of all of the kids on both teams,” said Almquist. “And to think, for a small, growing program that had only existed for the past six years, it really speaks to the talent that is developing out of this small area of Massachusetts. It’s really impressive what this program has done over such a short period of time.”