Lexi Davis and Julia Margiotti, both 17 and seniors at Levine Middle College High School, spend hours each week tumbling and jumping. They are not gymnasts, even though both girls started out in gymnastics when they were little.
Davis and Margiotti are competitive cheerleaders. Both south Charlotte girls are members of the Cheer Extreme Allstars Senior Elite team that is based in Kernersville.
“The original plan was gymnastics,” Davis said.
She began as a gymnast at age 2 at Charlotte’s International Sport Center. When she was 10 years old, she was asked if she wanted to join the Charlotte Allstars competitive cheerleading squad that practiced at the same complex.
“Gymnastics has all the bars and beams but I really like the floor,” Davis said. “And that is the piece of gymnastics that they pull out.”
Margiotti switched from gymnastics to cheer at age 6. She saw the cheer team practicing and ran out in the middle of her own gymnastics practice to tell her mother that is what she wanted to do.
“They looked like they were having more fun,” Margiotti said.
Davis and Margiotti drive one and a half hours each way at least three times per week to practice for three or more hours at a time. They also travel to competitions, at least one each month, competing against other all-star gyms from across the country and the world.
“And we put in hours and hours on our own,” said Davis, who also coaches other teams.
“Fridays are usually our only day off,” Margiotti said. “Unless we are traveling to a competition.”
They pay several hundred dollars each month in tuition and competition fees, plus travel and uniforms.
Both girls like that competitive cheerleading is a team sport.
“We are all working toward the same goal,” Davis said. “It is not quite as stressful as gymnastics because I know that I can rely on other people.”
Davis attended Providence High School in ninth and tenth grades and Margiotti attended Independence High School. Both girls switched to Levine Middle College High School for their final two years of high school to add more flexibility to their schedules.
They have reached the pinnacle of their sport.
“As you increase your skill level with tumbling, you keep moving up,” Margiotti said.
Each routines is two minutes and 30 seconds and includes tumbling, jumping, stunting and dancing. Tumbling is Margiotti’s favorite while Davis prefers jumping.
Both girls serve as the base in stunts, which requires quad strength, hand grips, and timing and coordination with the other two base girls.
“People get dropped a few times until you learn what you are doing,” Davis said.
There are 37 girls on their team, all of whom they consider close friends.
“My favorite part is the family that you get,” Margiotti said. “It’s like having 35 other sisters that you can rely on for everything.”
“No matter what happens, win or lose,” said Davis, “you still love everyone year-round.”
Both girls hope to continue to cheer in college.
They have sacrificed a lot to cheer at the level that they do.
“We’ve skipped prom, homecoming and social events,” said Davis.
“But I don’t feel like I’m missing out,” said Margiotti. “Because these are the people I want to be with.”
Katya Lezin is a freelance writer: firstname.lastname@example.org.