The Force All-star cheerleading squad performs its routine choreographed for the upcoming Contest of Champions in Orlando, Fla., on Saturday at the Ellsworth Elementary-Middle School gymnasium. PHOTO BY TAYLOR VORTHERMS

Force All-star cheerleading squad to compete March 1 at Disney World



ELLSWORTH — The Force All-star cheerleading squad has raised $51,000 to compete for the first time at the Contest of Champions in Orlando, Florida on March 1.

The event is an open competition that will be held at the HP Field House facility located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.

“The girls have not only worked hard on this routine, but they have fundraised their hearts out,” said the squad’s coach of 15 years, Kelli Mitchell. “We are so very proud of each and every one of them.”

Girls as young as 10 and as old as 18 comprise the Force All-stars. From grades 5 to 12, members of the squad come from Surry Elementary, Hancock Elementary, Ellsworth Middle, Ellsworth High, Mount Desert Island High and Sumner High schools.

“It has been the best thing for the younger kids, and it’s taught the older girls about compassion,” Mitchell said.

Paige Sawyer, a 10-year-old member of the squad, said she enjoys performing with the veteran cheerleaders.

“I get to know older people,” Sawyer said shyly. “It’s fun to talk to them.”

“And it’s fun to stunt off big people,” Sumner senior and member of the squad Hannah Fleming added in jest. “We throw you high.”

Sawyer smiled, then added “flying” to her list of what she likes most about being a part of the diverse team.

In April, the squad attended the Jamfest National competition in Boston and finished second in the Level 3 senior division.

“We had such a great time and learned so much about the All-star cheerleading industry that the parents, cheerleaders and coaches decided to make a commitment to attend the Contest of Champions,” Mitchell said.

A month later, Mitchell and three fellow coaches — Kyle Barker, Kim Barker and Jane Stackpole — held tryouts and began routine choreography.

The team started fundraising through yard sales, bottle drives, sponsored dinners, raffle tickets and other methods for what Mitchell described as “the experience of a lifetime.”

“It’s so surreal,” said EHS senior and squad member Karla Butler. “It didn’t even hit me until yesterday that we’re going to really be in Florida — it’s just insane.”

The squad will leave Feb. 27 and return March 3. The time outside of competition will be spent exploring Disney World.

Taylor Vortherms

Taylor Vortherms

Sports Editor at The Ellsworth American
Taylor Vortherms covers sports in Hancock County. The St. Louis, Missouri native recently graduated from the Missouri School of Journalism and joined The Ellsworth American in 2013.