Carolyne McKie and April Sganga have had Oct. 16 circled on their calendar for about a year.
The Augusta Christian cheerleaders have their sights set on a flawless senior season. In order to accomplish it, the two captains and their teammates must do something they have yet to accomplish: win the state competition.
"Even though everyone wants to win Nationals, the state meet is the thing they want more than anything," Augusta Christian cheerleading coach Jaime McKie said of the South Carolina Independent School Association state championship meet.
The pair wants more, despite already having won three Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders national championships, in 2007, 2009 and 2010, and five FCC regional titles. That they aren't satisfied shows how committed they are to their craft, said Jaime McKie.
"Of all the girls I've coached, they are the ones that live it," she said of her daughter, Carolyne, and Sganga. "Cheerleading is everything to them."
The reason Augusta Christian wants this title above all others is because SCISA does not differentiate between large-sized squads and smaller ones. Everyone is bunched into one division. Cardinal Newman -- which has won the title for the past four years -- can use a team of 24, while Augusta Christian -- runners-up the past two years -- has only 16 team members.
While Augusta Christian has yet to win a SCISA title, Carolyne McKie and Sganga broke through last year by earning SCISA All-State honors, a first for Augusta Christian cheerleaders. In addition, they were recognized last season as FCC All-Stars.
"For them, that was still a first," Jaime McKie said. "They had been trying for three years. They use very detailed criteria to get FCC All-Star."
Augusta Christian has already earned a spot in the upcoming season's FCC Nationals. A victory there would give Carolyne McKie and Sganga a perfect five-for-five for their career at Nationals. That's because both started competing on the varsity squad as eighth-graders.
Because she remembers being intimidated that first year, she said she tries to look out for the younger girls now that she's a captain.
McKie is a back spot and Sganga serves as a main base. Because of the leg strength required to perform their duties, they said, both captains and their teammates undergo conditioning runs and exercises in addition to rigorous practices.
"I don't think people realize what goes into it," Carolyne McKie said.
With their senior season having already started, McKie and Sganga have two big decisions to finalize. Both have essentially decided on the first, a destination for college.
McKie hopes to attend USC Aiken and cheer. She plans to major in business and eventually open a cheerleading gymnasium. It would allow her to work full-time on her passion -- choreography.
Sganga plans to attend Augusta State University for the first year, then transfer to Georgia Southern University. She hopes to compete with the Eagles' cheerleading team.
"My brother goes there, and I've been to a couple of the games," Sganga said. "From what I've seen, they're very good."
The other decision involves a prestigious honor both recently received. Both were offered staff applications to work with FCC. It would involve working with the organization during the summers while in college, and serving as judges and coordinators of meets.
Neither has decided whether they will accept, but both acknowledged just how special the honor is.
"I've been thinking really hard about doing it," Sganga said. "I know it would be a lot of fun just to go there ... and continue to do what you've been doing and learn more from it."
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