When Iconix Allstars opened in Jan. 2012, no one anticipated that their competition cheer team would be headed to the 2013 Worlds Cheerleading Competition. After all, the team’s season only began in June, according to co-owner and business manager Craig Hilsmier. But after competing in their first competition, Cheer Tech National Cheerleading & Dance Championships, Dec. 1-2 in Wildwood, NJ, the Iconix team was invited to do just that. Four members of the team are from Botetourt: Alyssa Woodward, Katie Dooley, Annie Barranco and Elena Lupacchino.
“Bobby [Lozano, co-owner and head coach] says that in cheer world, this is like the Superbowl,” Hilsmier said.
Some of the cheerleaders’ parents said Wednesday that they’re trying to find statistics, but they don’t think that a team has ever been invited to Worlds at their first competition.
Speaking of firsts, Hilsmier says the Iconix team is the first in the area and, he believes, the first in Southwest Virginia to be invited to Worlds. Teams must be invited–or must ‘earn a bid’–in order to attend Worlds, according to Hilsmier. He says there were only a certain number of bids to go around at Cheer Tech.
“I was so emotional. I was a mess,” Lozano said Wednesday. “These kids have put their blood, sweat and tears into this. Coaches have too. We share that commitment level.”
Of the 19 team members, Lozano worked with 11 prior to opening Iconix. He teaches a lot of high school tumbling classes, he said, namely at Salem High School, Glenvar High School and William Byrd High School. Team members come to train at the gym from all three schools, along with schools in Botetourt County, Christiansburg and Lynchburg.
“We have the best kids from all the high school competition programs,” Hilsmier said of their cheerleaders. Iconix Allstars is located at 629 Broad St. in Salem.
“Raw talent is something you don’t see much of,” Lozano said, “and this area has so much of it.” The weekend of April 27-28, 2013, the team will travel to Orlando, Fl., to test their talent against some of the top teams.
“It’s a feat,” Lozano said. “These kids have put in the time and they deserve it. I’m glad to see them reach their dreams and their goals too.”
Members of the Iconix Allstars competition team are Alyssa Woodward (Botetourt County), Aubree Harrington (Salem), Toby Russell (Roanoke County), Sarah Coleman (Lynchburg), Lauren Cook (Roanoke County), Logan Johnson (Roanoke County), Katie Dooley (Botetourt County), Annie Barranco (Botetourt County), Courtney Palmer (Roanoke County), Alisha Tanaka (Christiansburg), Alexis Hough (Roanoke County), Austin Harris (Christiansburg), Emily Strom (Glenvar), Hannah Smith (Roanoke County), Elena Lupacchino (Botetourt County), Kara Jones (Roanoke County), Kayla Carver (Southwest Roanoke County), Tori Wimmer (Roanoke County), King Chambers (Salem) and Bailey Casto (Lynchburg, not pictured above).
–Avery Eliades, special to The Botetourt View