Middle schoolers join high school cheerleading squad

When high school cheerleading tryouts began in the fall semester, only three students initially signed up. Wanting to build interest in the sport, new head coach Tyla Nelson pushed school administrators to allow middle schoolers onto the squad.

“We approach this season as a building year,” she said. “We have a great looking team.”New assistant coach Haley Reeves said there are advantages to having more kids on the floor. “You’re just able to do more stunts when you have more people,” she said. “You can do more formations. It just adds a different element when you have more people.”

Taking in middle schoolers also allowed the cheerleading squad to reach the minimum threshold of six members to meet school district policy for extracurricular activities, though the low count means the squad will not receive district funds for travel to any out-of-town competition.

It is Nelson’s first year as a cheerleading coach, after she responded to an advertisement for the position. “I thought this is an opportunity to give back, so I put my name in the hat,” she said.

Upon becoming coach, Nelson was joined by Reeves as assistant coach. “Haley and I have worked together on the last two theater productions,” she said, referring to the stage productions of “Annie” and “Cinderella” at the Nolan Center. “We have a similar style, and I thought she would bring a great energy and she has a lot of knowledge to share.”

“We both cheerleaded in high school and it’s a great combination,” Reeves said.

Nelson expressed enthusiasm for the current roster of cheerleaders, which includes four high schoolers and three middle schoolers. “Just last night I was so excited,” she said, referring to the previous night’s practice session. “We are going to look so great out there. I’m just so happy with the results that we’re seeing. Our hard work is paying off.”

“I think the goal right now is we really just want to get a base under our feet,” Reeves said. “It’s a cool thing to be a part of.”

Cheerleading squad:

Alisha Armstrong, senior

McKinley Gillen, senior

Anika Herman, junior

Natalia Ashton, freshman

Jordan Hayes, eighth grade

A.J. Roundtree, seventh grade

Charlie Nelson, seventh grade

Tyla Nelson, head coach

Haley Reeves, assistant coach

 

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