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Bears finish first in division

It was a big event for the little Billingsley cheerleading squad, but the Bears weren’t fazed.

The squad finished first in the Intermediate Varsity Cheer Division of the JAMfest competition in Nashville on Jan. 30.

Billingsley’s squad is composed of eight cheerleaders, while other squads in the division had twice, or even three times, as many.

“We were the smallest team there in our division,” cheerleader sponsor Allison Till said. “I told them dynamite comes in small packages.”

The trip was also daunting because it involved a flight out of Birmingham-Shuttlesworth International Airport. None of the cheerleaders had ever flown before.

The team raised funds for the flight, hotel and entry fee and also received donations from Clanton businesses NAPA Auto Parts and Lewis Machine Company.

Once in Nashville, all that mattered were the basket tosses and roundoff back handsprings, and the Bears performed well during their routine, which included aspects of stunts, dance and cheer.

“We have amazing girls here,” Till said. “And the community here really pulls together.”

Till, who is in her second year with the squad, said she has stressed the importance of the competition aspect of cheering.

“That was my expectation for cheerleading,” she said. “Not just making signs and looking pretty in the uniforms.”