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WAUKEE CHEERLEADER: Winning Recovery

Six months ago, dancing was the furthest thing from the team’s minds after their captain was rushed into surgery.

Since then, the team turned the life-threatening situation into a lesson with their captain making it back on the floor.

The crowd was there to see a Warrior victory but they were also celebrating a victory already achieved.

The Waukee varsity dance team can now call themselves state champions, for the 6th year in a row. It’s what they worked for all year.

This year’s competition brought a few additional challenges though. They were placed in a new division for larger schools.

That challenge they were ready for but a mid-summer phone call about their teammate and captain took them all off guard.

Senior, Courtney Bavender, explains, “Last June 22nd, I was going to work out in the morning and everything was going fine and when I was driving back from dance I got an excruciating headache. It was just the worst pain I had ever had.”

Courtney’s parents rushed her to the hospital expecting just a migraine.

“The hospital noticed that I actually had an AVM which means I had a collection of blood vessels in my brain that burst and it caused bleeding in my brain.”

Hours later, Courtney was in surgery.

“By the end of the night, we were down at the hospital and able to see her” recalls coach, Stephanie Guiter.

Courtney was their number one priority as a teammate and a friend, they supported her and did everything they could do to assist her, “they helped me out so much. They always were there for me.”

And Courtney wanted to be there for them in return.

She filled her spot for the competition she and her teammates had been working so hard for.

“She couldn`t dance with us for the first couple months so that was sad because she was on the side, she couldn`t dance with us” says teammate, Jordyn Glienke, “and state, we didn`t even think that could happen.”

Courtney is philosophical about her experience, “It was important just for myself, that I’m just like anyone else, and everything bad that happens in your life you can come back and do anything.”

Not only did she prove it to herself…

“It was so surreal. It was crazy. I would have never expected, especially after what I had been through, that I could come back and win first place in a state competition. I still can’t stop smiling from it.”

…but she inspired an entire team along the way, “It`s a miracle. It’s amazing.”

The team won two 1st place titles at the state championships.

In February, the team will compete at nationals in Disney World. They are hoping to place in the top 10 for the first time.


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