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Security Federal Athletes of the Week: March 5-12

Partnering with Security Federal, the Warren County Sports Authority will honor a standout local athlete each week. The WCSA and the Friendliest Bank in Town love seeing great athletic achievement and there are plenty to pick from every week in Warren County. From winter to summer, spring to fall, and on courts, fields, diamonds, dance floors and anywhere else an athlete can succeed, Security Federal and the Sports Authority are going to be on the lookout for the best of the best!

March 5-12: The Pioneerettes

Perhaps no local program has more experience competing for national titles than the Pioneerettes. They did it again earlier this month, traveling to Florida to compete against the best of the best squads in the NDA Nationals. Moving up into new divisions, the Pioneerettes finished 15th in the nation in Large Varsity Game Day routine and 28th in Medium Varsity Pom.

"Can you say proud? I CAN!," said coach Penny Shockley on her Facebook page after another successful run for her team in Orlando. "Our amazing Pioneerettes represented their school, themselves, our community and their families so well. We moved up in both divisions and these were the two largest divisions in the competition."

The Pioneerettes, led by senior Milly Stone and featuring Aniston Smith, Keira Reynolds, McKenzie Hillis, Makayla Cagle, Gracie Morton, Sarah Grissom, Brynn Woodlee, Brooklyn Cope, Jera Jones, Ashlyn Terry, Dixie Hillis, Emma Cooper, Maya Williams and Maddy Turner, still showed out despite being at a numbers disadvantage all weekend. In the Game Day routine, the 15 local dancers competed against teams that routinely had double the girls on the floor. Coach Shockley, who celebrated her birthday on the final day of the four-day competition, knew her Pioneerettes had done something special when they wrapped up their routines.

"As a coach, all I ever ask is they are pleased with themselves and their performance when they come off the floor and the were. I was too. They are young and (their finishing positions) were not too bad in my opinion," said Shockley. "They deserve congratulations and gave me a birthday to remember. I love the girls and am so proud of them all. I can not wait to see the places they go in the future."

The Pioneerettes, who get great training with Shockley and fellow coach Sherry Burnett, are positioned to compete for many more state and national titles in the future. With only one dancer graduating, and the community continuing to produce more and more skilled performers at young ages, the program is in good hands. Coach Shockley did have a special message for her departing dancer though.

"There are no words to say to let you know how much I will miss you and the amazing impact you have left on me," Shockley said of Stone's final run with the squad. "It is never goodbye --- just see you later! Take care of that part of my heart you take with you."

An impressive season for the Pioneerettes also included a fifth-place finish in the TSSAA state championships in December. It was a big-time debut for the team as it was the first time any of the group had taken the floor to perform at state (performances over the last year-plus have been recorded in empty gyms and sent in for competition grading during COVID restrictions).

Editor's Note: We apologize for falling behind on Athlete of the Week features during spring break. The honoree for March 13-19 will be published tomorrow, March 24 to catch up for the month.

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