Local cheerleaders compete at ICCA state competition

For the past ten years, Lincoln Middle School cheerleaders have been showing off their flips and stunts on the mat, and this year is no different.

"It means a lot to me because last year I didn't do so well, and this year I could come back and show that we've improved a lot," said Nydia Rodriguez, a 7th grade cheerleader at Lincoln Middle School.

The Loggers punched their ticket to compete at this year's Illinois Cheerleading Coaches Association, the ICCA state competition. Hundreds of teams from schools across the state work throughout the season to qualify, and these athletes said they are proud to represent Rockford.

"Cheerleading's not an easy sport like people might think it is, it's actually really hard and you have to put in a lot of work," Rodriguez said.

This group of 6th 7th and 8th graders said they have been working hard this season, and are hitting stunts typically only seen at the high school level.

"It's really exciting to see this age be so elite and it's really awesome to just watch them grow and be so motivated for their goals," said Michaela Strick, head coach for Lincoln Middle School cheerleading.

Also, for the first time ever in Lincon Middle School history, this year the team welcomed their first male athlete.

"I've learned to always work as a team and do what's good for the team and not just what's good for you," said Espoire Onda, and 8th grader cheerleader at Lincoln.

Proving how much the sport has grown over the years, and will continue as they grow, as well.

"A lot of these athletes, cheer is their life," Strick said. "They work really hard, and they get good grades and they stay out of trouble, so as a coach that's the best feeling."