Ipswich football fans have long known what a very talented group of Tiger cheerleaders they see at the games. They are not only the best on the North Shore but now national champions for the second time in three years after winning the 2014 National Cheerleading Association title in Louisville, Kentucky on February 20th.
The team is coached by Kristen Almquist and Cara Wilson. Excellence is nothing new for this group, which was also national champs in 2012 in Louisville and took third in Dallas last year.
“This team is by far the most talented I have ever coached,” said Almquist, who grew up in Rockport and now lives in Salem. She has been coaching the Tigers for six years, and three years ago brought in Wilson, who is one of her former cheerleaders from Triton Regional.
“Cara and I have had three amazing seasons coaching together at Ipswich. “We have some really talented and fantastic athletes. Our program is successful because we have a supportive athletic director (Tom Gallagher), amazing families, and a great community.”
Six years ago Almquist was approached by two Ipswich parents when she was working at All That Cheer and Tumble in Amesbury asking if she would consider returning to high school coaching and help build the program in Ipswich. She applied for the job, and the program took off.
The girls practice and compete from mid August until Thanksgiving with the state competition taking place on Sunday before the holiday. Ipswich has been very impressive winning the fall Cape Ann League Grand Championship three times, North Regional Division 4 title three times and the D-4 state championship the last two years.
To qualify for nationals teams must either score 160 or more points or be a state champ. The first time Ipswich went by total points scored, and the last two by winning the state competition.