Ending her six years of coaching on a bittersweet note, Breland Atkinson, felt nothing but pride as her pom line took second place at the USA Nationals Spirit Competition in Anaheim, Calif.

The Canyon Del Oro (CDO) High School pom line, junior varsity and varsity cheer teams, which consist of 40 girls, all headed to California, March 27-30, to compete in the national competition. The three teams qualified for nationals after placing high enough scores in their regional performances back in November. This is the first time that all three teams have competed together at this competition. 

“The most impressive thing is that we were united as a team and also encouraging each other and as a team we had great sportsmanship,” said Breland Atkinson, head coach over the three teams. “It shows that the values of the program we created come outside of the floor and outside of practice and that what we’re doing is working.”

The pom line ended up placing for the first time by coming in second in the competition. The JV and varsity cheer teams didn’t place, but represented their school well through their cheer stunts and dance routines. The pom line competed against six other schools and the cheer teams competed against more than 20 schools from across the country.

“The thing I admire the most about the girls is that they have the mental fortitude to keep going and keep persevering and keep working at their skills,” said Atkinson, who added that that is a mentality she has seen all season from her teams. “Over time, that has made us competitive with some of the California teams and it’s really put the CDO spirit line on the map.”

For co-captain of the pom line, Amelia Gotobed, placing second was the perfect way to end her senior year.

“It felt pretty awesome and pretty deserved,” said Gotobed. “We worked really hard so finally getting second at our most important competition was really, really great.”

What has made the CDO spirit line so strong is not only their mental toughness, but also their unity. Some of that is due to Atkinson’s coaching staff – some of whom she coached in the past. Her assistant pom coach is Jessica Meyer, her varsity cheer coach is Samantha Denney and JV cheer coach is Ray Ann Mague. The closeness of their staff as well as the girls do team-bonding activities throughout the year has led to a very unified team, according to Atkinson.

Just as the seniors will be missed next season so will Atkinson, who will be stepping down from coaching in order to spend more time with her family. It is bittersweet for Atkinson, but also for the girls who will miss their coach.

“She has really brought everyone’s standards up for the whole program. She has taught us all so much and she gives up so much of her time for us,” said Gotobed. “I’ll definitely miss her.”

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