‘Amazing Attitudes’ Pinecrest Cheerleading Camp Welcomes 37
The Pinecrest cheerleading program went into its team camp this week with new coaches and a revised structure that athletic director Ernie Purnsley feels will be more consistent with the other athletic teams at the school.
The four-day camp, with 37 participants, was held at James Moore Gym. It was led by instructors from Cheer Ltd., located in Fayetteville.
Ashanti Walther is succeeding Gayle Mace as the varsity coach. Sheila Moore and Casey Cheek are the other new coaches.
The preseason continues with a clinic and tryouts at the gym Wednesday through Friday, Aug. 3-5. The Wednesday and Thursday sessions, beginning at 8 a.m., will be used to teach candidates the routines that will be used for Friday’s tryouts, which get under way at 7 a.m.
The first official practice for the varsity and jayvee teams will be an overnight event held at the gym Monday, Aug. 8, beginning at 3 p.m.
UNC Wilmington cheerleaders Casiann Etters and Melissa Alexander are two of the Cheer Ltd. instructors. They applaud the new direction of the program, which will provide training opportunities for the girls along the lines of what is offered in the other sports at Pinecrest.
“We’ve talked to the A.D. and he’s ready to get them cranking in that competitive feel,” Alexander said during Thursday’s final session. “They’re just beginning, but they’re progressing quickly because of their amazing attitudes. They’re been pushing themselves this week, and if they continue to do that throughout the year, they can do it.”
One of the goals will be to prepare the squad to enter more cheerleading competitions than in the past. Etters, who has worked at six camps this summer, was impressed with the combination of returnees and new cheerleaders, including rising freshmen.
“These girls are great,” she said. “They have positive attitudes, they’re patient, and they work really hard.”
Holding the camp at Pinecrest was a different experience from the previous year, when the team went to UNC-Chapel Hill and stayed in dorms instead of going home at the end of each day.
“Everybody has come together and we’ve bonded,” Madison Sweeney, a rising sophomore and a member of the jayvee team last year, said. “This has been a good combination of hard work and fun with the instructors.”
Mikayla Ceraso, another rising sophomore, was asked what she thought was the most beneficial thing about the camp.
“We’ve really worked hard on our stunting,” she said. “They (instructors) broke it down a lot and we learned more of the technical parts of it. I like the dances. Stunting can get scary at times.”
Walther, who was unable to attend the camp, is a native of California and a former cheerleader at Los Angeles Valley College. Moore, a teacher at Pinehurst Elementary, will coach the jayvee squad. Cheek is a Pinecrest staff member who once coached the cheerleaders at North Moore High School.
Under the new structure, the fall squad will be called the “competition team” and the winter squad will be the “cheer team.”
There will be tryouts for both, allowing individuals the opportunity to participate in other sports if they chose to do so.
Purnsley looks for the cheerleaders to have more opportunities to develop their skills in the off-season. He looks forward to the time when Pinecrest will host a cheerleading competition.
“This will make us more consistent with the other sports governed by the North Carolina High School Athletic Association,” he said. “I really think it will elevate our cheerleaders.”
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