Jennifer Sutherland, office manager for East Tennessee Cheer and Gymnastics, said the team will be hitting the road later this week for the D2 Summit, which will be held this weekend at Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports Center.
About the team
Sutherland said the team consists of 22 girls and young women ranging from 11 to 19 years old. They represent a number of local schools, including Sullivan South, Dobyns-Bennett, Daniel Boone and University high schools; Sullivan, Robinson, Sevier and Rogersville middle schools; and Northeast State Community College.
The squad is considered a senior 4.2 team, Sutherland said, meaning they perform level-four stunts with level-two tumbling.
“There’s a lot higher difficulty in stunts,” Sutherland explained, “with back handsprings being the highest difficulty in tumbling.”
The road to the D2 Summit
Sutherland said the team received an at-large bid to compete in the D2 Summit in March at the World Spirit Federation competition. The team took first place in its division and received an award for best choreography.
She added that this particular team, coached by Brittany Lawson and Niesha Rogers, has been working together only since the beginning of this year, after two previous teams were combined.
“We had some athletes that left us and we decided to combine the two teams,” Sutherland said. “So they actually had only competed together as a team since we came back after Christmas, and they got their bid in March. It was their third time competing together as a team.”
At the competition
Sutherland said the Queen Cats will be competing against about 25 other teams in their division, though 1,000 total teams will be at the event. If they finish in the top half of their division on Saturday, they will advance to the final day of competition on Sunday.
Once the competition concludes, the top team in each division will receive rings like the World Series and Super Bowl winners do, Sutherland said.
“We want to finish first place,” she said. “Our first goal is to make it to day two, but our ultimate goal is to come home with the rings.”
As the Queen Cats prepare for the D2 Summit, their final competition of the season, preparations are also in full swing for next season, Sutherland said.
“We’ve actually got new athletes in while this team is still preparing,” Sutherland said. “Our goal is to keep all of our teams for next year the same so everybody can bond and build and hopefully have more than one team go next year.”