- Associated Press - Saturday, March 26, 2016

RANSON, W.Va. (AP) - The All-Star Legacy WV’s eXplicit Small Coed 5 2015-16 all-star cheerleading team made history recently as the first in the Eastern Panhandle to qualify for the United States All Star Federation Cheerleading and Dance World Championship.

The USASF 12th annual World’s Championship will be held on April 22-25 at Walt Disney’s ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida. The World’s Championship brings together almost 10,000 cheerleaders and 4,000 dancers from Levels 5 and 6 from more than 40 international countries each year.

EXplicit qualified for their at-large World’s bid at the Cheersport competition in Atlanta on Feb. 15. At Cheersport, eXplicit achieved one of 16 World’s bids offered against 67 teams in all different divisions.

An at-large world’s bid gives the team, usually first-place winners or Grand Champions, an opportunity to compete at the USASF World’s Championship, but is not fully paid for. EXplicit is working towards a partial- or full-paid bid.

EXplicit head coach Amber Royer has no doubt her team’s ability to succeed. EXplicit, according to Royer, practices a total seven hours in three days a week, but their preparation doesn’t stop there. The 14 boys and girls, from ages 13-18, that make up the coed team participate in tumbling classes and conditioning that are not mandatory but enhance and perfect their abilities as athletes.

EXplicit became eligible for World’s in 2014-15 as an open Small Coed Level 5 team. To qualify for a world’s bid, a team must meet the requirements for Level 5 tumbling including, standing fulls, connecting skills with doubles, jumps to tuck and whip passes with rotations. Also, they must meet the requirements for Level 5 stunting.

The level of difficulty with a Level 5 team is challenging, but all of the athletes at the gym offer their own individual strengths that better the team. According to Royer, this is the most tight-knit team that she has ever coached, and it shows with their hard work and dedication to the gym. However, she isn’t worried about winning.

“Typically with all teams, we focus less on placement and more on hitting a routine with zero deductions,” Royer said. “We know that they will be in a pressure situation competing in a new surrounding, but we hope that the excitement of their first world’s performance comes through with the best routine they have had all season.”

Royer was determined to take her team to the top after being considered an underdog in the cheer world competition.

“Oddly enough, someone in the cheer industry said to me a few seasons ago that ‘the Eastern Panhandle would never have the talent to produce a world’s team.’ I think more than anything, I knew in my heart that this was incorrect in so many ways, and I truly believed in Legacy and our coaching staff would be able to bring a team up to this level of competing,” Royer said.

“The athletes inside the walls of my gym instantly become my family. Sometimes, I tell the kids that ‘I can’t want it bad enough for you; you have to want it bad enough for yourselves.’ I know that through my coaching style, though at times it can be harsh, I am able to bring out potential in these athletes more than they could imagine having. I am lucky to have coached such a wonderful group of dedicated athletes, with great attitudes toward the sport, who are able to show true sportsmanship through competing,” Royer continued.

Royer is focusing on strengthening their technique and perfecting areas of the routine that need it through hard practices. Her main goal is to produce a team of athletes that impresses and surprises people, in hopes to represent the Eastern Panhandle in a better light.

Royer had one last thing to say to the person that told her that she couldn’t raise a World’s qualifying team in the Eastern Panhandle of West Virginia.

“We’re just getting started.”

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Information from: The Journal, https://journal-news.net/

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