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What It Takes To Be A Collegiate Cheerleader

Being a collegiate cheerleader takes a lot of time, dedication, hard work and patience. Transitioning from all-star cheer to college cheer is a lot different than most people think; your priorities change and cheer shoots itself to the top of your to-do list faster than you can blink. My life schedule is made up around cheerleading and I wouldn’t have it any other way! After graduating Little Rock Central High School in 2013, I moved from Arkansas to Texas. I attended Navarro Junior College where I cheered and went to school for two years. At Navarro I learned how to fly as a coed cheerleader, basket at a level 6 difficulty level and stand on boy’s shoulders while holding a girl on my own in pyramids. I basically learned a whole new world of cheerleading. I earned my first two collegiate National Championship wins in Daytona Beach, Florida with Navarro College and then transferred Sam Houston State University where I continued my cheerleading career. The following year at Sam, I won my third national championship title.

In college my cheerleading abilities were put to the test; it’s not all about the glitter and big hair in college cheer. We practice every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday from three to six and we have football games on the weekends and during basketball season. We cheer during the week. During our practices, we work on tumbling, jumps, pyramids, stunts and baskets. Everything changes in college cheer...while tumbling, you have to learn to use your own strength on dead floor instead bouncing and using the springs on a spring floor. Jumps are just like tumbling, you can’t whip your jumps as you would normally on spring floor because there is no rebound on a dead floor. Instead of standing on your bases hands and being thrown while being connected to another person, you are standing on shoulders and throwing girls on top of yourself, while still managing to smile. Stunts consist of being thrown in the air while flipping or spinning or BOTH, and then landing on one guys hands; and during baskets you are launched into the air doing flips and spins and landing in a cradle position in your bases arms. Coming from all-star to college, I was shocked at the difference in difficulty and change in skills. To be honest I said many times “I’m not doing a flipping basket where I spin and have to flip at the same time” or “I could never land on his hands doing a front-hand spring with a one and a half twist,” all of those things seemed so scary and mind-blowing to me. In the end, I actually shocked myself after learning all the skills I said I would never be able to do; getting over my fears and pushing myself to be the best I could possibly be. Aside from the skills, college game day is a BIG plus in college cheer! At Sam, we meet before games and warm up our skills and stunts, and we go around the tailgates by the stadium while doing cheers and our fight song for tailgaters. I study during my free time when I am not working or doing things for cheer. I hang out with my friends and try my best to have a social life and keep up with school and cheer all in one, but your friends become understanding that cheer and school come first. After all, you are in college to get a degree and become an adult some day!

At the end of the day whenever I get overwhelmed with my busy schedule or stressed about not getting a certain skill or a better grade, I have to remind myself of all the accomplishments I have made and that it takes a person’s failure to fuel the drive of champion. College cheer is tough, tiring and it takes away from having a “normal college life” but I’ve made so many incredible life-long friendships and adventures that I would never trade for anything. If you haven’t thought about cheering in college yet, I would strongly advise it, it will change your life for the better!

Beyond the Sidelines: A Milestone for Macy

I want to send this email to say Thank You!!! Macy started with Sideline Spirit on August 31, 2015 in the Intermediate/Advanced Tumbling class starting her journey to becoming a Cheerleader. Macy was previously in Gymnastics as a little girl, but had never had any formal Cheer Training. In fact she never had any training in cheer at all. Her friend's Nadia and Kaitlyn were both in the classes, and Kaitlyn was currently on the Cheer Team at Knox Jr. High. They both pushed her to come take the class, and just like that we were on our way to a goal that certainly seemed unreachable. Laura, Macy's stepmom signed her up for the first class and she began taking the classes with Coach Rachel and loving them! She was able to progress at a fast pace due to the great coaching and will to succeed. During some point in the school year, Macy began listening to the doubters in her class that were current Cheerleaders and felt like she wasn't going to be good enough. We had a heart to heart about how it is an uphill climb due to the lack of cheer experience that she has had, but that when you really want something and work hard you can achieve the impossible. During this time we signed Macy up for the Dance class with Coach Tish, enrolled in Operation Tryout and First 15 when it came available. Coach Tish's Dance class was Awesome and Coach Rachel and the rest of the Sideline Spirit Team and their great work at the Operation Tryout and First 15 brought Macy a ton of confidence. The week before the tryout we had private lessons with Coach Rachel and with continued hard work and dedication practicing with Kaitlyn and Nadia, she was ready for the tryout at Knox Jr. High. On March 11th, my Birthday and wearing #41 during her tryout (My Age Now), we checked the website and Macy had achieved what herself and her doubters thought was impossible. She is now an official member of the 7th Grade Knox Cheer Team with her best friend and (student coach) Nadia. We are so proud of her and her accomplishment! For a young girl, this milestone will certainly aid in her confidence in becoming a young lady. We truly could not have done it without the Awesome Coaches and Owner at Sideline Spirit Cheer. Ashley, you have created something very special and we will always be grateful. It must be such an amazing reward to provide the tools to help these young girls achieve their dreams.

Thank You,

John Roberts
Proud Daddy

Beyond the Sidelines: Sew Your Spirit!

Bentley Lankford is truly a cheerleader at heart, she came into the world 14 weeks early (at a fierce 1lb 14oz) and stayed with her twin brother in the NICU for 3 months.  It is from that stay that has developed a giving heart, she is a creative girl and loves to SEW.  At 5 years old she started making small pillows and blankets that she would donate to the NICU that cared for her at birth.  This Christmas she delivered 14 blankets for the babies in the NICU, they were the perfect size for the tiny babies that were spending their holidays in the hospital.

In October of 2014 she decided to take on her first big sewing project, she wanted to make cheer bears for the girls in her class and the coaches at Sideline Spirit.  She searched Pintrest for ideas and finally had a picture of what she wanted to make, Bentley sought out some help from her Great Aunt who is an amazing seamstress and who helped with modifying the pattern and the embroidery but in the end Bentley sewed 12 skirts, 12 shells, 12 bloomers, her mom pitched in to help with the project making 24 pom poms and 12 bows.  It was a huge undertaking for this  7 year old but the excitement of giving them to her Sideline friends we truly worth it.

Bentley continues to sew blankets in her free time, is currently working on some doll clothes and is taking classes in the Spring on how to read patterns so she can design & sew her own clothes.

Beyond the Sidelines: A Passion for Cheer & Volunteering

This month’s Beyond the Sidelines story is featuring S! student Avery Collazo. Avery is a Klein Collins cheerleader and has been training with Coach Ashley and Sideline Spirit for nine years. Avery loves Sideline Spirit and Coach Ashley for being a positive role model in her life, and for teaching her to be a positive role model to others, on and off the field.

Avery also has a passion for volunteering and is a member of Legacy League. Legacy League is a Mother/daughter volunteer organization that strives to improve the quality of life within the Klein community through volunteer work. Most of Avery’s volunteer work is performed at the Abandon Animal Rescue. The Abandon Animal Rescue is a no kill animal shelter that provides care and adoption for animals that do not have a home of their own. Avery spends many days during her summer and afternoons during the school year volunteering at the shelter and has over 45 hours this year.

Avery continues her volunteer work at home by fostering kittens that are not old enough or healthy enough to live with the other cats at the shelter.

When Avery is not cheering or volunteering you might find her at the stable! She loves riding horses and spending time with her friends at Northside Christian Church.

Beyond the Sidelines: The Rah Rah Rodeo Sweetheart!

This month's Beyond the Sidelines story is featuring S! student, Myla Wagoner!! Myla is a very busy second grader. Not only does she tumble at Sideline and cheer for the AAYFDT Klein Sweethearts, she also competes in the Houston Live Stock Show and Rodeo!

 Myla has always been very active in the agriculture world by competing in stick horse races, mutton busting, and showing livestock. Myla received her first heifer for Christmas in 2013 and showed the heifer (named Peyton) at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo in March of 2014. Myla placed 1st in her class and won the Summer Intermediate Heifer division in the Miniature Hereford Open show!

When Myla is not cheering, she spends her days at the barn working with her heifers. These animals require hours of work to ensure they are well mannered and fitted (groomed) correctly for show. An afternoon at the barn includes catching & haltering the heifers, working with the heifers so they will walk with you on a halter, training the animal to set its feet in the correct position for show, bathing, brushing, and drying them with a special hair dryer, called a blower, just for cattle. More time gets spent on the heifer’s hair than most cheerleaders spend on their own hair!

Myla currently has 2 heifers-- a miniature Hereford and a Simmental.  Myla just received her second heifer this week! The new heifer is a red Simmental, and since the heifer is red and sweet Myla named her peppermint! The mini Hereford was recently bred and had its baby on Halloween. Myla named the calf Boo.