Carrie Kihn, head coach of Fairmont’s competition cheer team, led her team to a nearly undefeated 2019-20 season.
This year, Fairmont’s competition cheer team achieved more success than ever before. The team acquired first place honors at nine competitions. The team also has the title of Regional Champs with UCA (The Universal Cheerleading Association).
Kihn is currently the head coach of varsity football cheer, competition cheer and all of the basketball cheer squads at Fairmont. She has been involved with Fairmont cheerleading for 19 years.
Kihn is very passionate about cheerleading and due to her long duration of being involved with the program, she is very well known and respected in the cheerleading community.
“I was a cheerleader when I was at Fairmont and I was in dance my whole life and competed. I wanted to keep being involved in that so I became a cheer coach,” Kihn said.
Kihn is very busy during the winter season with cheer. She has to coach her competition team as well as her sideline basketball cheer squads.
Sideline cheer and competition cheer are both considered cheerleading teams at Fairmont; however, they are very different in numerous ways.
Competition cheer athletes compete against other cheerleaders, rather than cheering for a sport on the sideline. With competition cheer, the cheerleaders are the “main focus of the event,” Kihn said.
Unlike sideline, competition cheer also requires all members to have strong tumbling skills and gymnastic abilities.
Kihn requires her athletes to be able to perform a standing tuck, jump to tuck combo and a running tumbling pass.
According to Kihn, the sport has developed immensely from when she first started coaching.
“When I first started out, we did not require tumbling, but we encouraged it,” she said. “But as the sport has grown, it has become more competitive, so we’ve raised the bar.”
Although Kihn has led Fairmont’s competition cheer team for 11 years, the sport has never achieved as much success as it has this year.
“We are the Regional Champions with UCA and we’ve achieved 1st place at nine of our competitions,” she said.
At the end of their season, competition cheerleading teams get the opportunity to compete at UCA Nationals located at Walt Disney World.
Nationals were held on February 9, 2020 this season and the Birds made their presence known.
Due to prior success and hard work all season, the team had high hopes and expectations for this trip.
“Two days before we left for nationals, we had an injury and had to remove someone from the routine,” Kihn said. “We had to adapt our routine and change some things. This is really hard to do at the last minute and there was no time to really practice the changes.”
The Fairmont competition cheer team placed second. Kihn was very pleased with the results as her team got into the top three spots, which is what her expectations were.
“Earning the silver medal showed that this team could come together and overcome adversity,” Kihn said.
The continued success year in and year out motivates Kihn and her teams to strive for greatness at the highest level each season.
“I do believe the future contains a National Championship,” Kihn said.