Local cheerleading squad dazzles way to nationals

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The Springfield-based Capital Elite All-Stars draw girls from across Central Illinois. The Springfield-based Capital Elite All-Stars draw girls from across Central Illinois.

The girls of the Capital Elite All-Stars cheerleading gym have a message for you: What they're doing is absolutely a sport -- not a sideshow.

"I would say, 'Let's see you come out and do a two minute and 30 second routine, with jumps, with tumbling, with pyramid, with everything that's involved with cheer and let's see how you feel afterwards," coach Marquis Williams said.

They're the cheerleaders who get cheered for and they're doing something that no other team in Illinois has done: earn a bid to the Division 2 national championships in Tampa, Florida.

"It's really awesome because it's one of the most talented teams go," Williamsville eighth grader Sophie Beckett said, "and you only get
invited to it."


The gym is in Springfield, but the girls come in from all over the area, from Pawnee to Pana, Riverton to Sherman.

"It's more fun for me because it gives me a chance to travel and go experience other places," Waverly High senior Makenzie Bagley said. "It gives me a chance to meet new friends and learn skills I wouldn't have been able to in other sports."

Those skills come from Williams, who commutes over an hour each day from Peoria and brings as much energy as his dancers.

"Actually because these girls have become my family," he said. "I started working here at Capital Elite three years ago and I have been here ever since. It's just an awesome feeling."

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