At the Georgia High School Association (GHSA) Cheerleading State Championships, held November 19-20, at the Macon Centreplex, the MPC competition cheer squad brought home its tenth consecutive State championship!
The MPC squad is the only cheer team in the entire state, across any regional class, to have achieved the impressive feat of ten consecutive cheer titles. The GHSA Class A-Private Competition Cheer State title has been bestowed upon the MPC Eagles squad since the 2012-2013 season, the inaugural year for Class A-Private.
The MPC competition team, coached by Paige Johnson and Catina Taliaferro, set as its theme for this year “Perfect10n.” Improving upon last year’s winning score of 93.5 points, the Lady Eagles earned a near-perfect score of 105 points (a perfect score is 107 points). The level of difficulty of their routine consistently outscores larger schools and classes. The squad outscored the second place winner by nearly 12 points and was one of three teams, across any class, to have earned the high score of the day.
Competition cheerleading is acknowledged as an Olympic sport and has been recognized by the GHSA/NCAA for more than 25 years. The MPC Lady Eagles were named GCCA Team of the Year in 2018. The cheer squad holds the most consecutive GHSA State championships for any sport in Cobb county. This tenth consecutive title also puts MPC competition cheer in a tie with Westminster boys cross country (1996-2005) for the second most consecutive titles in the state in any sport. The top spot for most State championships in any sport belongs to Jefferson wrestling (2001-2019).
MPCS senior cheerleader C. Johnson said, "This year has been a year full of challenges that we have overcome time and again, but as we’ve been told, it’s the hard that makes it good. Coming off of the State floor is an indescribable feeling - a feeling of excitement, relief, confidence, unity, and an overwhelming realization that all of our work had come to fruition. We would not have been able to get through this season without the guidance and encouragement from each other and from our incredible coaches. I have never been more proud to be a part of something as I am to have been a part of MPC these last four years."
MPC cheer remained undefeated throughout the 2021 competition season and was also the Region champion. The team remains a powerhouse in turning out Division I athletes, with 19 D-I athletes since 2010. No doubt, such success is attributable to the relentless effort put forth by each cheer athlete, who trains 12-14 hours per week and close to 350 hours per year in order to deliver on gravity-defying stunts and breathtaking tumbling routines. Training includes weight training, conditioning, tumbling classes, camps, and stunting, plus the girls spend time at practices, games, and in community involvement.
Coach Johnson, a former Auburn University cheerleader herself, commented, "What a privilege it has been to walk this journey with this amazing group of athletes! Their grit, determination, and perseverance is above and beyond the normal drive and commitment. We talk a lot about what a compelling athlete is - someone who makes you want to be the best you can be in every aspect of their sport - and that is what they exemplify!"
The goal of the MPC cheerleading program has always been to invest richly in each girl to develop life skills that can be applied in the future in personal development, relationships, workplace, and faith. The aim is to provide an avenue to see and feel the value and reward of hard work and of putting others before self. The coaching staff works to instill in each teammate the long-term commitment to the process, believing that championships are won in the discipline of the off season, not in one moment of the final competition. Success is viewed as an established work ethic, sacrifice, humility, integrity, passion, relentless effort, and commitment to excellence. The team has many “parts” working together, playing on each team member’s strengths, and overcompensating for each other’s weaknesses. Because of that, the squad operates in a championship culture that the girls will apply to the rest of their lives.
MPC cheer team member E. Akins said, “I would say one of the keys to success is the way that our team would encourage each other. We held each other accountable inside and outside of cheer, and we supported each other through the good and hard times in our season. Even within the routine, we would say words of encouragement to let each other know that we believed in them.”
“Our team is special because we work on our chemistry and relationships outside of practice,” said senior M. Cantwell.
To summarize this defining season, coach Catina Taliaferro said, “This season has been very special to me. I have seen this young team develop athletically, academically, and, most importantly, spiritually. The girls who have had the blessing of being coached by Paige Johnson are better because of the spiritual investment, work ethic, and pursuit of excellence. I am so proud of the girls!”
Senior L. Garofalo shared, "I think what helped us the most in achieving our goal is starting every practice with a team devotion to set our minds right for every accomplishment and trial that came throughout the season."
“Competing for a tenth consecutive State title comes with pressure,” said squad member S. Bohannan, “but remembering that we are confident beyond reason because our confidence lies in Christ brings us peace. We know that He sees us through every situation, and He is the reason we are able to accomplish and do what we do.”