by Kim Cameron
All year long, spirit team coach Kendra Holmes told her team,
WeWillRiseUp, and when her dance team claimed the 2A Poms State Championship Friday, March 26 at the Broadmoor World Arena in Colorado Springs, she was able to proudly say #WeRoseUp.
Because of COVID regulations, Coach Holmes was at the award ceremony by herself with her team waiting for her outside, “I had to carry the big banner and the heavy trophy out to them, and the moment they saw me, they just swarmed me. It was just a big hugging cry fest. It was pretty awesome.”
West Grand senior and team captain, Tiffany Padia-Luttrell says of the moment, “All I have to say is seeing Kendra walk
out with that trophy and banner was the best feeling I’ve ever had. Instant relief and happiness. And I’m very proud of each and every one of those girls. I’m so blessed to be able to call them my team. It’s been a really hard year for all of us, including coaches, and all our hard work paid off. I couldn’t have asked for a better way to end my senior year!”
Coach Holmes says, “It didn’t matter what challenge was thrown at them from CHSAA, the state, or the county or anything, they were ready to go. They fought for it. They put the hard work in there, and their hard work paid off.”
“I am just so proud of them,” she says emotionally.
There is a lot that goes into claiming a Poms State Championship and for the West Grand Spirit Team, they have been training for nearly a year amongst the challenges of COVID regulations and quarantining.
With a background in competitive dance, Coach Holmes understands all the details and training that have to go into a performance. She begins by teaching them basic dance techniques, “how to hold their dancer core, how to do a pirouette, and how to do kicks.” She also makes sure that her team does cardiovascular training and is willing to challenge other athletes to join their practices.
Beyond these basics, she aims to teach them life lessons. She often tells them, “Have courage and be kind.” She also aims to expand their horizons and show them new opportunities. This year the team worked with Jana Blue, of Choreography Wire, a professional choreographer and dancer who was a former Broncos and Denver Nuggets cheerleader.
“It was really awesome to get them in front of a professional choreographer and a professional dancer and expose them to more opportunities,” Coach Holmes says.
The team also utilized the talents of a musical company, Unleash the Beats, to create their Janet Jackson mashup, the Black Cat Escapade.
Coach Holmes is detail-orientated and understands competition, helping the team to choose music that would appeal to the older judges who would be scoring their performance. She also ensured their dance routine would have strong visuals, musicality, strong sharp movements, a fast tempo, high energy, lots of riffs and roll-offs, kicks, and a smile on each face. Most of all she wanted them to have fun.
She explains, “This year I had more of a laid-back mentality. The focus was on having fun and just being together.” And come together, they did, along with over 40 fans who made the trip to Colorado Springs.
“People showed up for them. It was so awesome and is a testament to how our community loves our kids.
“It is a time we get to celebrate the girls who are usually supporting others.”
She continues, “State is highly competitive and truly celebrates what cheer and dance are.”
And competitive it was. West Grand scored 75.88 while second place Hotchkiss scored 75.80 – just eight one-hundredths less. Other team scores were: Sanford 73.88, Clear Creek 73.40, Lyons 73.28, and Vail Christian 72.85. The last time West Grand brought home a Poms State Championship was nearly two decades ago.
This years’ competing dancers and state champs are: seniors Tiffany Padia-Luttrell (captain) and Isabella Galindo; juniors Morgan Monk, Itzel Rodriguez, Ximena Rodriguez-Ramos, and Cora Farley (captain); and freshmen Wendy Eller, Eleanore Poindexter, and Ashlyn Eisenman.