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Local ‘panthers’ show up, show out on national stage Walterboro Panthers place second in the nation

A group of girls from Colleton County is making big waves as part of a national cheer organization, and recently performed in a national competition held in Disney World.
Called the Walterboro Panthers, the girls are part of the Champions in Motion cheer organization, which is headquartered out of North Carolina. There are three chapters in South Carolina, with Colleton being one of them.
The group was created in the 1950s by founder Bonnie Hood. “She dreamed of creating quality programs for kids to enjoy and further growth. She started a family tradition that is continuing to this day,” said Deandra Legare, a team mom for the Walterboro Panthers.
“The cheer coaches are all highly-trained, and committed to inspiring youth and preparing them for life experiences,” she said. “Mots have cheered themselves, either in high school or college, which has given them the needed skills to instruct and keep everyone safe during practices.”
The Colleton County team typically practices each Friday at the Colleton County Recreational Complex. They already have several tournaments under their belt and are currently preparing for more showcases.
“Competitions are a big part of the organization, where the teams travel to compete at regional, state and national levels,” said Legare. “This builds friendships, creates teamwork, and makes lifetime memories.”
Brooke Lopez is the head coach for the Walterboro Panthers. She is also the manager for all of the South Carolina chapters of Champions in Motion. She drives to Walterboro from Myrtle Beach each Friday to coach the local team, which is divided into three skill levels.
The Walterboro Panthers cheer group has been in play for four years.
“These girls come from Colleton, Hampton, and Orangeburg counties for this opportunity to cheer and have fun,” said Legare. “These girls practice once a week and work very hard, pushing themselves to their full potential as they continue growing each year. The girls who choose to compete get to travel to Myrtle Beach, and Greensboro, North Carolina and event to Raleigh, and Fayetteville,” she said.
“They may not always place, but they always come home as winners!”
In 2018, Lopez opened tryouts for a higher-level team, called Level Four. This is for those who want to compete on a national stage.
“At this level, the team is considered to be an elite team, and that is based on their skill sets and not their age,” said Legare.
The Walterboro Panthers competed in June of 2018 at the state competition in Fayetteville, NC for the first time as an advanced Level Four team.
Then, in September 2018, the girls performed at the Summer Showcase. They received two points to go towards the next State Competition, with a chance to place high or be State Champions. The tournaments are based on earning points toward a national showcase and competition.
The local group continued to perform in several fall and winter competitions during 2018, gearing them up for a chance to make Nationals in 2019.
Then, in February of this year, they traveled to the state competition in North Carolina, where they performed and took second place in the competition. This gave them more points that they needed to have to make the cut to a national competition.
“To me, cheerleading is my life. I know it might sound a little cliché, but it is. It’s helped me through some hard times, but it is also where I have had some of the best moments of my life,” said Destiny Case, a freshman at Colleton County High School. “I love and appreciate all my teammates and my amazing Coach Brooke.”
They recently competed in that national showcase, which was held in Disney World on July 21st.
They placed second in the nation.
“Cheer is the only thing you can count on at any given moment. It’s you versus them, you versus the next year, you versus the odds,” said Kiersten Blocker, a fifth-grader at Cottageville Elementary School and a member of the Walterboro Panthers. “That two minutes and thirty seconds, its let’s see what you got.”
The Walterboro Panthers consist of girls of all ages who represent elementary schools, Colleton County Middle School and Colleton County High School.
“The Walterboro Panthers are not widely known and at this time is working on getting in the community, so people know who they are and what they stand for,” said Legare. “The Walterboro Panthers Elite Team is a group of girls who believe in themselves and without a doubt that they can achieve any dream or goal they set.
Walterboro Panther’s participants are:
Level One: Abigail Kessinger and McKenzie Taylor;
Level Two: Lauren Drawdy, Makayla Glover, Megan Harvey, Kadynce Kessinger, Autumn Leopard, Trinity Lloyd, SaRiya Manigo, Arianna Sammons, Kalani Singleton, Lindsay Starkweather, and Kamryn Wiggins.
Level Three: Karolynne Jackson, Na’Zairre Harley.
Level Four: Destiny Case, Anastacia Compton, Keelie Downs, Tylar Eversole, Zooey Main, Ally Pritcher, Bella Pritcher, Emma Shafley, Chelsie Shealy, Aiyanna Souza, Megan Stanley, and Kailei Willard.

Heather Walters (1621 Posts)