YHS cheer team places fourth in game day division at state championships

The squad re-choreographed its entire routine midseason


Madison Hummel has enjoyed plenty of success in her first two seasons as Yelm High School’s head cheerleading coach. 

The team has qualified for the state championships in Battle Ground the last two years, placing fifth in both traditional and game day routines last year. The road to state was a bit tougher this time around, and Yelm’s hard work paid off with a fourth-place finish in the game day division on Saturday, Feb. 3.

The first challenge was the team only featured 12 student-athletes on the mat for both the traditional and game day routines, a challenge that Hummel said limited the amount of stunts they can perform.

“We can only really do two, maybe three stunts at a time. For our traditional routine, we had to change it up,” she said. “We had three stunts initially, but I had a flyer get hurt. I have people to fill spaces, but I don’t always have a flyer.”

The biggest challenge during the season, however, was changing the Tornados’ game day routine completely from their first to second competition. Judges at competitions early in the season didn’t like the dance, so the coaching staff decided to switch it up.

“We were just missing marks on some of the things that we needed, and, as a coach, I had to decide what was the best route for that,” Hummel said. “We were nervous as coaches about doing it because we came back from Christmas break, and I was like, ‘Surprise! We’re changing it all,” and they just kind of smiled at me and just did it. They actually did a really good job.”

The coaches brought in choreographers from Visual Precision Choreography to help craft the perfect routine. Cheer captains Coral Ogle and Alyssa Martinez said the challenge brought the team closer together throughout the rest of the season.

“This time around, we were definitely more ready for it, compared to last year’s game day routine. I felt better about this season,” Martinez said. “I felt like we had more to bring because of our energy and our bond.”

The cheerleaders only had three weeks to practice the new routine, but it was a three-week stretch that defined the team’s season.

“The last couple of weeks has really brought the team closer as a whole, just having to redo everything and being there for each other,” Ogle said. “We had a really good chance because we’re all together as one. We had a lot of hard work and determination that we put into the season.”

During the state championships in Battle Ground, weeks of practicing the new game day routine resulted in a fourth-place finish, one spot higher than last year. Hummel said that the program will continue to grow and improve in the future.

“Our program is growing, and the kids are growing with it, and they’re willing to grow with it,” she said. “That’s all a coach can ask for. The kids really love to be here and love to be around us. As a coach, that makes your job a little bit easier.”