Key West’s state-bound competition cheerleading team poses outside Coral Glades High School at their regional competition. CONTRIBUTED

Key West’s competitive cheerleading team has been working tirelessly this season, spending hours to perfect a routine which only lasts a few moments. Key West is the only Keys school with a competitive cheerleading season this year, but their high score at regionals means Monroe County will be represented at the state meet in Lakeland on Feb. 2. The team practices five days per week to sync their choreography and time complicated stunts which require strength, agility and a good dose of bravery. 

Their pursuit of perfection paid off on Jan. 19 at the FHSAA Region 4 competition at Coral Glades High School, where the Conchs competed in the highly competitive small non-tumbling classification. Head coach Ariana Corsi noted the dedication of her team, who battled through injuries and other obstacles in a sport often overlooked. 

“I am extremely proud of these girls and how far they have come,” said Corsi. “They are headed to states to represent Key West because of that hard work and perseverance.”

Tracy McDonald fled to the Keys from the frozen mountains of Pennsylvania hours after graduating from college and never looked back. She is a second generation coach and educator, and has taught in the public school system for over 25 years. She and her husband met at a beginning teacher meeting in 1997 and have three children born and raised in Monroe County. In her free time, McDonald loves flea markets, historical fiction and long runs in the heat.