After demonstrating their ability to hit stunts on the first try, the Lady Lions were invited to participate in the elite division of the United Cheerleading Association camp held July 13-16.
"You basically learn a lot more stuff in the same amount of time," said Liberty cheer director Jennifer Watson. "But you have to prove you can handle it before they let you in."
And prove themselves they did. Both the varsity and JV squads took home the first-place award for the best home pom routine in addition to winning the Superior Spirit Awards and being named Camp Champs.
But the varsity squad was perhaps the most proud of winning the Tradition Award, also called the Top Banana Award.
"That award is all about carrying on the tradition for your school," Watson said. "Our girls were always dressed alike and did everything they were asked to do. They were cooperative and always smiling. Everywhere they went they ran there and they were ready to work."
In addition to the overall team awards, several Liberty athletes earned individual honors. UCA camp directors selected All-Star cheerleaders, who now have the opportunity to perform in the New Year's Eve Parade in London in January. The Liberty All-Stars chosen were freshmen Helen Harden and Katelyn Tobar, sophomore Chelsie Tate and seniors Hannah Huchton, Kelsey Pavao and Evan Pearson.
"Our senior All-Stars also got invited to try out for UCA staff positions at the end of the season," Watson said. "It's quite an honor."
Senior Cassie Nelson earned the Jump Off Award for having the best hops on command.
Unlike last year, Liberty will carry an 11-person freshman team this season to be coached by 2006 Liberty grad Louise Bottini. The freshman squad won't attend competitions but will be on hand to cheer at school events.
The first varsity competition is in October at Great America.