Cheerleaders Integral Part of Program
Count the Pinecrest cheerleaders among the citizens of Moore County that were hard at work before sunrise this summer.
Varsity coach Gayle Mace and jayvee coach Sueanne Jones conducted daily practices beginning at 6 a.m. to get ready for last Friday's football opener at home against Enloe. The 27 varsity and 15 jayvee members also attended the Spirit Express Camp at UNC-Chapel Hill in July.
Like their counterparts on the gridiron, the cheerleaders were anxious to finally get a chance to perform in front of a crowd.
"We've been practicing since June," Melanie Richardson, one of three senior captains said before Friday's kickoff. "It's really exciting to finally be on the track, showing people what we've been doing and all the material we learned at camp."
Kathleen Boorman and Allison Haller are the other captains. All three earned all-conference honors last season as well as All-American recognition at the UNC camp. Other all-conference returnees include Kai Salang and Auriel Jeffries.
Megan Middleton, Sammi Davis and Candis Bouldin also received All-American honors. Graecie Vrchota received the camp's Overall Gatorade Passion and Spirit Award.
Haller, who has won state, regional and national titles in tumbling and trampoline events, is the leading gymnast on an athletic Patriot squad.
Other tumblers include Kelcie Frye, Ashlyn Douglas, Jordan Thompson and Carlie Eibel.
Richardson feels that this year's group is particularly good at stunts. She couldn't help chuckling as she described one of the most involved ones called the "Fruit Roll-up." In the routine which was performed on Friday night, five stunt groups interchange with the fliers from on top of each pyramid becoming tangled with each other in the air.
"I think we're really good at stunts," she says. "We practice a lot on them and it definitely means teamwork. We have five or six stunt groups in the "Fruit Roll-up" and its really crazy."
Mace has a number of talented fliers, including Middleton, Thompson, Eibel, Douglas, Emily Dean and Sammy Meany.
"They all have to do their own jobs and the flier has to be able to hold her own, so to speak," the coach says. "They just can't depend on everybody else to do their job. They have to be very tight. If a 90-pound girl doesn't know how to hold herself, she can be as heavy as a 120-pound girl."
The Patriot coach is pleased that the seniors are helping instill high performance standards for the team.
"Everyone's been helping each other out, especially the people that haven't cheered before or are new to the varsity," Richardson says. "We make sure we critique everything and that everyone is doing it to the best of their ability. We've had a lot of bonding experiences at camp and at the practices. We've become a lot closer."
Mace was proud of the way her 45 campers conducted themselves at UNC. She calls this a competitive group that looks forward to cheerleading competitions. One of the goals of the cheer squad this season is to get the Patriot crowd more involved in organized cheers using signs.
Off to a 1-0 start after Friday's 41-20 win over Enloe, success on the field makes it all that much easier to get the fans behind the football team.
"We're really excited and think it's going to be a really good season," Richardson says. "Last year was really good and I think we're just going to keep getting better."
Contact Charlie Bergmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
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