Valley’s cheer program has become one of the most dominant in the area

Published 11:12 am Thursday, June 6, 2024

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The United Cheerleaders Association camp held over the weekend gave an opportunity for schools across the state to compete and get a first look at their squads for the upcoming season. It also gave squads from across the state an opportunity to see how dominant Valley High School’s cheer program has become. 

Valley took its varsity, JV and junior high squads to the competition last week. The varsity squad took home first-place trophies in the rally routine, the sideline, overall gameday and the Rams took home camp champion for the mascot as well as having several All-Americans on the team. 

Valley’s mascot was named an All-American along with Toria Hightower, Shelby Bell, Maggie Rennie, Greenlee Dabbs, Jordyn Scott and Kyla Williams. Molly Williams and Bryce McDonald were each Pin it Forward recipients and the team took home a superior trophy and second-place cheer. 

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“I think this is a good stepping stone for them to get good practice in against teams that we may or may not see in other competitions,” Valley coach Chelsea Bunn said. “It’s a chance for these girls to get their feet wet and see where we are right now.” 

The JV squad took home first place in overall gameday and the superior trophy. Aniyah McCullough and Jerricka Adams were named All-Americans while Adams was also a Pin it Forward recipient. 

The junior high cheerleading squad took home two second-place trophies and two third-place trophies while also receiving the superior trophy. The junior high squad had Ava Barber, Ada Yarbrough, Addyson Mitchell and Cadence Wood named All-Americans. Ella Gregory was also a Pin it Forward recipient. 

The UCA camp was just another bit of evidence of how dominant Valley’s cheerleading program has become under Chelsea Bunn’s leadership. Bunn began with the program 10 years ago and has seen it continually grow during her tenure. 

“We’ve had a lot of growth,” Bunn said. “I started coaching at the junior high level, and for the last three years, I’ve been coaching varsity. This senior group is the last group of girls that I also coached in middle school. I think just by being able to be with this group of girls for several years, they just know my expectations. Pushing them to be better every day has really helped to build the program.” 

Bunn has seen several leaders step up on the squad already this summer. Shelby Bell is the team’s captain while Molly Williams and Toria Hightower serve as the team’s co-captains. The three have led the team this summer along with fellow senior Ashlyn Barnes. 

“They are good at keeping the girls positive,” Bunn said. “They’ll tell them things to fix or work on, but they’ll keep it positive. They want what’s best for the squad, and they see what potential the underclassmen have. I don’t think anyone on this squad takes average as being acceptable. I’ve seen them really push the girls.”

April Haney serves as Valley’s junior high cheer coach, and she and Bunn both coach the junior varsity team. Bunn helped the junior high team make major improvements during her time as the coach, and Haney has continued that forward progress. 

“She really hasn’t missed a beat with them,” Bunn said. “We have the same expectations. We coach very well together. We both understand that a program has to be built from the bottom up. She’s been really drilling skills at the younger level so they’re prepared when they come to JV and varsity.” 

Valley’s cheer team will have a full schedule of competitions ahead of them. The Rams will compete in AHSAA regionals in November and will compete in the state competition if they qualify. 

Valley will also compete in three more UCA competitions with hopes of qualifying for the national competition in Orlando in February. 

“We work on making sure our stunts are solid, that they keep high energy throughout an entire routine, have flawless transitions and try to make sure we’re using our props properly and effectively,” Bunn said. “It’s all about engaging the crowd.” 

Every year, Bunn and Valley’s program has set and surpassed goals. Now, the Rams are looking to reach new heights. 

“There’s a lot of talent there,” Bunn said. “Our goal is to make it to semifinals or finals round, at nationals this year.”