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Local special needs cheerleading team ready for competition

A local cheerleading team is getting ready for the competition season, but they aren’t your average team.

“To me, they’re one of the easiest groups of people I coach, ” Heather Lopez, cheer coach for Idaho Inferno Competitive Cheerleading team, said.

The Blaze cheerleading team isn’t your typical competitive cheer team. It’s a group of individuals with special needs coming together to do what they love. Megan Miller has been a part of the team for two years.

“They’re fun and I like it,” Miller said. “And it makes me happy to make new friends.”

They get together once a week, practicing their routine for competition. Jared Walton says some moves are harder than others.

“Jumping,” he said. “They’re easy for me and they’re not cartwheels.”

The team has been around for four years. For Coach Lopez, it’s the highlight of her week.

“They walk in our building, there’s never a bad attitude, there’s never a frown,” she said. “It is smiles and it is happy and it is hugs. And it is we love you’s and it makes my heart so happy.”

The team will compete three times this year, but the competitions don’t scare them.

“Sometimes I’ll be a little nervous like in front of people,” Miller said. “I get so nervous because I’m gonna fall, but I sometimes just do it myself and I know I can do it.”

Lopez says the group sometimes gets viewed differently, but when they’re out competing on the floor, they’re just like everyone else.

“I think it’s a sense of inclusion,” Lopez said. “And I think that they feel like any other normal teenager or kid and they get that praise of being successful in front of a crowd with big lights and noise and fans screaming and clapping for them”

The team will have a special performance for family and friends this Thursday at 6 pm. Their first competition is in January in Utah.

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