FHS cheer team reaches Nationals for first time

On Feb. 10-12, Franklin High School cheerleaders competed in the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) Nationals at Disney World, Orlando, Fla. At the ESPN Wide World of Sports venue are  (front row, L-R) McKinzy Carver, Coral Perry, McKenzie Holland, Gracie Elliott, Jordan Westerman, Jennifer Westerman, and coach Lynn Baker; (back row) Michelle Perez, Kassidy Mixer, Lauren Shannon, Brianna Quiroz and Kaylee Zachary.

Dan Finnerty – Sports Writer

Lynn Baker has led the Franklin High School (FHS) Panther Cheer Team for eight

FHS Cheerleading team poses for a shot in front of the Tree of Life at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., where they competed in the Universal Cheerleading Association Nationals.

years, but none of those years has she witnessed the team reaching the heights of this year. On Feb. 10-12, Baker led her cheer team athletes to the top of the cheerleading mountain – the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) Nationals at Disney World.

Baker said that the team did “amazing” at the competition, adding, “They hit zero with their routine in preliminaries and advanced to the semi-finals, where they hit zero again!” She explained that accomplishing a zero indicates a team completed their routine with no falls or other deductions, which is rare in the cheer competition world. FHS scored just shy of making the finals but made history nonetheless. They were the first Panther cheer team to compete at UCA Nationals, which is akin to the Super Bowl of cheer competitions. 

“It was an awesome weekend and I am so proud of them for everything they

The Franklin High School cheerleading team is always a fixture a varsity ball games.

accomplished,” said Baker.

Baker has been with FHS since 2014, first as a volunteer and then as a head coach. Prior to that, she also coached at the community league level and helped with various other programs and sports.  

“I’ve worked with many talented FHS teams through the years that received state and national recognition,” she said, but this year’s team won state and advanced to compete at the cheer competition of all cheer competitions!”

On the individual level, cheer team members McKenzie Holland and Lauren Shannon were both also named to the All-Region cheer team and invited to try out for the All-State team. However, they ended up not making the cut in the highly competitive qualification process, which includes the best of the best across the entire state.