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Waynesboro's Rainbow gymnasts bring home gold at competition

April 17, 2008|By JENNIFER FITCH

WAYNESBORO, Pa. - Nicole Burd says the best things about her cheerleading team are the friendships and camaraderie.

"We're all so close, it's like a big family," said Nicole, 13.

She and the other girls identified teamwork as the reason why they won a national championship at the end of March, although that win seems to have been kept in perspective.

"It's not about winning. It's about having fun," said Nicole, who lives in Waynesboro.

Eighteen girls ages 14 and younger from Waynesboro's Rainbow Gymnastics represented the junior team of Rainbow All Starz at the Cheer and Dance Extreme "National Championships by the Sea" in Virginia Beach, Va., on March 29 and 30.

"This is our fourth national title, our first junior national title," said Barb Hafer, cheerleading coordinator and coach of the senior team.

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"I was a little nervous. Saturday, they did amazing and I had no worries in the world, but Sunday was a little shaky," said Courtney Smith, who coaches the junior team with Joey Garland.

"Every team wants to go and be a national champion, but it's not as easy as you'd think. It was attended by teams from all over the East Coast," Hafer said.

Rachael Garland, 13, of Greencastle, Pa., said she knew the team did well when it got off the floor, so she would have been happy with any placing.

"We look at other squads, and they don't talk to each other," said Sam Fuller, 13, of Waynesboro.

The girls said teamwork is a key component of a good routine such as their winning, two-and-a-half minute effort.

"With tumbling, you rely on yourself, but with stunts, you have to rely a lot on other people," Nicole said.

"They are all about the same skill level and work together really well," said Hafer, who coaches teenagers with her sister, Cheryl Smith.

Teams are judged on partner stunting, pyramids, tumbling, dance and cheer, according to Hafer.

The Rainbow All Starz junior team has been bumped up a division and has refocused on stunts as a result. The girls practice twice a week in the gym owned by Robert "Lynn" Ross, who teaches tumbling.

Most of the junior team's members have been involved in the activity for at least a couple of years.

"I used to do gymnastics, but cheerleading looked funner, so I joined," said Lisa Williams, 12, of Greencastle.

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