Foundation Academy cheer coach Adrienne Pilz went from coaching her girls to a third-place finish at FCC Nationals on Saturday, Jan. 7, to giving birth to newborn baby Ashton Pilz on Sunday, Jan. 8.
WINTER GARDEN With a due date of January 26, Foundation Academy competitive cheerleading coach Adrienne Pilz figured she would be safe so far as being able to coach her team through its first appearance at the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders' National Christian Cheerleading Championships.
The competition was held at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort Jan. 5-7 — a whole three weeks ahead of the expected arrival of baby Ashton Pilz.
Turns out, though, that little Ashton was excited to make his grand entrance.
“The week of Christmas, I had gone to the doctor and he had commented that I was going to go early — he joked that I might even have the first baby of the New Year,” Pilz recalled. “I was really shocked. So, I just started praying, ‘please let me get through (FCC) Nationals with my girls.’”
Her prayer apparently was heard — and answered — and Pilz got through the event, with the Lions picking up an impressive third place finish Jan. 7.
The next day, though, the check came at 3:04 p.m.
“I woke up Sunday morning, got out of bed and my water broke,” Pilz said. “So I was like, ‘well, God answered my prayers — I asked to get through Nationals.’”
The lead-up to Pilz’s chaotic weekend involved some adaptive coaching strategies — mainly, the second-year head coach did her coaching from a chair. It was a compromise that was easier than said than done for a coach who prefers to be up and active during Lions’ practice sessions.
“It was definitely hard to sit back (and coach),” Pilz said. “I like being in there with the girls and helping them stunt and move around. At competitions I jump up and down, I’m screaming crazy. …
“That’s probably why, after the competition, I ended up in labor.”
Pilz kept her team up-to-date on how her pregnancy was progressing and relied heavily on her assistant coaches and captains to make sure the team did not miss a beat.
“The girls were great — they definitely understood. They stepped up to the plate with that,” Pilz said. “The girls even threw me a baby shower, which was really cute.”
From the perspective of the team, it became a motivating factor to have a coach who was so dedicated as to stick with them until the nearly (almost literal) last minute.
“I think it just inspired us all to work even harder and do our absolute best,” senior Casey Kenoyer said. “We are so impressed — she is our inspiration every day.”
If Pilz’s dedication was impressive, so, too, has been the growth of the school’s competitive cheerleading program through its first two years of existence.
For the second time in as many years, the Lions made it to State, where they competed in the Small Varsity, Non-Tumbling category, finishing with a score of 58.30.
The team’s growth over the past two years has included an evolving routine that has become more intricate and athletic — something the girls are proud of.
“I’m really, really proud of us,” senior Maddi DeStefano said. “Starting a team from scratch is hard and it’s been a difficult two years — but it’s been a really rewarding and really fun two years. The improvement, from last year to this year, it’s amazing.”
And, even though the season is over, the Lions will take a break and get back to training for next year — and will do so with their new biggest fan watching from his stroller.
“We love having Ashton here and getting to see him,” DeStefano said
Contact Steven Ryzewski at [email protected].