10/07/10 — Cheerleaders compete for top honors at fair

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Cheerleaders compete for top honors at fair

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on October 7, 2010 1:46 PM

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Charles B. Aycock High School varsity cheerleading squad performs a routine during the cheerleading competition. Aycock finished third in the varsity competition.

Connor Vinson was in kindergarten when she first saw a group of cheerleaders practicing their routines. She said she knew immediately that she wanted to become one.

Connor, 11, is now a cheerleader at Norwayne Elementary School, and on Wednesday evening she was one of many girls from the across the region participating in the cheerleading contest at the Wayne Regional Agricultural Fair.

With the fairground bleachers packed, dozens of girls demonstrated the skills they have worked on for weeks.

Norwayne did well, taking second place in the middle school division.

Although Connor has fun cheerleading, it is still a lot of work.

"It takes courage, pride and hard work to be a cheerleader," she said. "I practice two hours a day two days a week."

Ask her what her favorite part of the routine is and she will tell you it's the stunts like show and go, pass and hitch.

Those are the stunts that 6-year-old Hayley McPhail is already practicing as a cheerleader at Northeast Elementary School. Don't let her age fool you -- Hayley has been a cheerleader for two years.

"I think it's fun to be a cheerleader," she said. "I'm a tumbler." A skill she showed very proficiently when it was her team's turn to take the field.

As Connor and Hayley get older, they will find it takes more and more practice to be a cheerleader. Just ask Elizabeth Whitley, a 17-year-old cheerleader at North Lenoir High School. Her team took home the first-place trophy in the senior high division.

"It takes hours worth of practice, probably two hours every day after school for two weeks just to get ready for the cheerleading competition at the fair," she said. "It's give it your all, nothing less. That's what we're used to doing."

Even with all the practice, it's still fun for Elizabeth. "That's why we do it," she said.

Corri Hill, 17, also a cheerleader at North Lenoir, agreed. But she said it takes a lot of practice to choreograph a routine each year.

"We try to keep our stuff unique," she said.

And Elizabeth and Corri both agreed that although they do the competition mainly because it's fun, it's also nice to win.

"It's indescribable," Elizabeth said. "Just to know that you did your best and know that all your hard work has paid off."

Kiera Lewis, a 16-year-old cheerleader at Rosewood High School knows all too well all the hard work that goes into cheerleading.

"We practice every day all the time," she said. "Two to three hours -- just depending."

But competing doesn't just involve practice.

"You have to cheer each other on to get mentally prepared," Kiera said. "And you also have to have fun."

Her advice to anyone wanting to be a cheerleader?

"Just do your best and smile," she said.

And if you do make a mistake, learn from it, said 17-year-old Kristen Lynn, a cheerleader at Rosewood High School.

She also tries to say positive, especially when doing her routine at the fair.

Shantel Moore said the perception that cheerleading is not a sport is wrong.

"It's not just about clapping our hands and stomping our feet," the Rosewood High School cheerleader said. Cheerleading takes motivation and hard work, she said. And it requires both teamwork and spirit, said 16-year-old Goldsboro High School cheerleader Zacchia Cobb.