When the Edgewood Eagles sent four cheerleading teams to the national championships in Disney World, the program had already made history. It marked the first time that any singular association in Rhode Island had sent teams in all four age groups to the event.
But Edgewood wasn’t done writing its name into the record books.
The Eagles took it a step further. Two of those four teams – the Varsity and the Junior Pee Wee teams – won national titles, the first ever for a Rhode Island team.
“This is the first time for cheerleading that any team came back with a national title,” said Edgewood Eagles cheerleading coordinator and varsity co-head coach Lori Scichilone. “We came back with two.”
The other two teams excelled too, as the Pee Wee team took sixth and the Junior Midget team took fourth, but the national championships were certainly the highlight of the trip.
The four teams went down to Disney last week, and they each competed on separate days from Dec. 3 through Dec. 7.
Prior to that, though, the teams had outlasted competition from all over the state and New England to even have the opportunity. Each of the teams either won or came in second at a state qualifier, a regional qualifier and then the regional competition.
Simply getting to Disney was an achievement, as each team had to beat over 100 others.
The varsity team had reached nationals each of the last four years, but came in sixth, fifth and second the previous three.
Finishing near the top is difficult, as there are about 12 teams that qualify nationally in each division. Finishing at the top is even harder.
“It’s extremely hard to take any trophy back, at all,” Scichilone said.
When the varsity team took second in 2011, it finished just six-tenths of a point behind the champion.
They were determined this time.
“They were hungry, obviously,” Scichilone said. “They were really, really hungry for it.”
And it showed. The varsity didn’t just win – it dominated. The team ended up on top by three full points, a lopsided margin in the cheerleading world.
“When you go down to nationals, the point scale is within tenths of points,” Scichilone said. “It’s the best of the best down there. You’re usually not blowing away any teams.”
But Edgewood did. To make it even better, the team also earned the award for the best stunting group.
“Absolutely amazing,” Scichilone said. “We all cried. The parents went crazy.”
The win was emotional, but not entirely unexpected. The varsity program has been competing well and Scichilone thought they were ticketed for a top-3 finish, at least.
The Junior Pee Team, though, was more surprising. That team prevailed against the largest group of teams, and took home the title by less than a point.
“Not that I didn’t believe in them, but they had lot to compete against,” Scichilone said. “Usually it’s the hardest division because there are so many teams.”
But it didn’t end up mattering. Edgewood outlasted the competition, and then returned to Cranston with two national championships and a whole bunch of great memories.
“We had such a great time down there,” Scichilone said. “Everyone was very, very happy.”
The varsity team is coached by Scichilone and Kristina Cannon. The Junior Pee Wee team is coached by DJ Price.
The Junior Varsity team is coached by Sue Hanson, while the Pee Wee team is coached by Jessica Corbin.