West Orange High cheer brings home third state title in program history

Warriors cheer ends 10+ year state title-drought in dominant fashion at the championship meet.

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Foundation Academy wasn’t the only cheerleading team to win a major championship this season. The West Orange High cheer team took home the 2023-24 FHSAA Class 2A small division state championship. 

The title is West Orange’s first state championship in any sport since 2017. It also marks the third cheerleading state championship for the Warriors overall and the first since the 2012-13 season. This is also the first title for Warriors coach Alicia Light.

“It’s an amazing feeling to know the work and the effort that has been put into this season and, really, the last few seasons, building up to this moment,” Light said. “To put this together, take our program to that level and accomplish this … has been amazing. We hoped we could get here, we saw the potential of this team, but it really came down to us peaking at just the right time. We had a rough start to the season, so to see it play out this way and see the effort the girls put in be rewarded by being able to bring a state title back to West Orange is really big.”

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Pitted against the top six Class 2A teams, including one area team in Windermere High, in the ever-difficult all-girl traditional division, the Warriors performed first in finals and ended up with a score of 83.8, two points better than the second-placed team. 

“Given our rough start, there were moments of just doubting our abilities,” Light said. “But seeing how this group was able to come back from that start and work through our little mistakes throughout the year and gain our confidence back, even though we made mistakes, was amazing.”

The Warriors’ mindset to push not to let mistakes affect their confidence came into play in their state championship performance and was a microcosm of how this group was able to win the state crown. 

“We had a fall in finals at states … but we did not let that become something that impacted the routine,” Light said. “They just kept moving and kept doing their thing and they were able to prove that one mistake wasn't going to define the whole routine and really their whole season, and that was a big thing for us over the course of the season. Yes, we made a mistake, but that's fine. Now we move on and we capitalize on the next things we have to do to make that mistake not affect us.”

This group will only graduate one senior. So, like the Warriors cheerleading teams that won back-to-back state titles in 2011-12 and 2012-13, this group will have the chance to win it again next season. 

“There’s already a mentality of chasing that next one and wanting to continue what we’ve started here with this group, because even though we did so well ... we know that there’s even more growth that can occur from here,” Light said. “We know we still haven’t tapped out our full potential, and I think these juniors particularly, that are going to be seniors next year, they know that and they see the opportunity in front of them.”

Sam Albuquerque is the Sports Editor for the Orange Observer. Please contact him with story ideas, results and statistics.

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Sam Albuquerque

A native of João Pessoa, Brazil, Sam Albuquerque moved in 1997 to Central Florida as a kid. After earning a communications degree in 2016 from the University of Central Florida, he started his career covering sports as a producer for a local radio station, ESPN 580 Orlando. He went on to earn a master’s degree in editorial journalism from Northwestern University, before moving to South Carolina to cover local sports for the USA Today Network’s Spartanburg Herald-Journal. When he’s not working, you can find him spending time with his lovely wife, Sarah, newborn son, Noah, and dog named Skulí.

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