Harrington’s Jr. Pee Wee cheer squad brings home National title

For the first time in the program’s history, Harrington Pop Warner’s Jr. Pee Wee cheerleading squad brought home a Pop Warner title at the National competition at Disney World.

On Monday, Dec. 5, Harrington’s Pop Warner program had not one but two teams competing at the National competition.

The Junior Varsity program placed seventh in the PW3 Small division, while the Jr. Pee Wees placed first overall in the PW3 Small division.

It was the perfect way for the cheer program’s president, Crystal Hughes, to end her 12-year tenure as a volunteer with the Harrington Pop Warner program.

“We brought back Harrington’s first National Pop Warner title,” Ms. Hughes said of the team’s performance at Disney World last month. “All these teams work hard and competing is tough. You have 2 minutes and 30 seconds to take everything we have taught you and perform. In that short amount of time anything could happen. Both teams had a clean routine. I am proud how both teams performed. Teams from all over the United States were there. It can be intimidating watching so many teams. I knew they would do well.”

Heading into the Regional competition, the two teams knew they had to place either first or second in order to earn a spot at Nationals. And they accomplished just what they set out to do.

Even with a National title in hand, Ms. Hughes doesn’t believe it’s the biggest highlight to a successful competitive cheer season.

“I feel the highlight of the season is watching the girls grow. Some are friends and some are strangers. They create a bond and friendship with each other. They show support when someone accomplishes something. For the coaches, they see the girls grow as a team,” she said.

“Aug. 1 is the first day of practice. Some were so fearful to try new things. As soon as they do that first thing they were taught they just know that they can do anything. The excitement when the girls do a cart wheel for the first time, or they land that back handspring they have been working on all season. Cheerleading creates a bond with these girls that makes everlasting friendships.”

The banquet on Jan. 28 will be her final day with the cheer program, but she plans on assisting her successor in growing the program in whatever way she can.

“I will be crying that night,” Ms Hughes said of the banquet. “That will be my last night of volunteering after 12 years with Pop Warner. The girls are who I dearly will miss. I have known some of these girls since they started at Mighty Mite level and have watched them grow into teens. I have created lifelong friendships with some of the parents and coaches. It’s a family and will be hard to let go. I will always pop in and see them. I will always be there to help the new cheer VP grow the program. I will continue to volunteer with Harrington Parks and Rec teaching the cheernastics program.”

Sports Editor Ben Heck can be reached at bheck@newszap.com.

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