Greenup County’s Cheer Program Creates a Legacy Worth Cheering About
By: Sasha Bush
The Greater Ashland Beacon
Cheerleaders are such a vital part to any sport. Cheerleaders are responsible for setting the perfect example of motivation, school spirit and positive energy. The energy, enthusiasm and support that cheerleaders bring to every game makes everyone feel a sense of excitement and support. No game would be the same without them on the field, court or arena. They set a visible example to everyone they encounter that school spirit is vital to the success of any team. It’s a proven fact that teams perform better when they feel like they are appreciated, supported, and celebrated.
Cheerleading seems to be the one sport that is constantly being looked down upon and belittled. People often get the mindset that cheerleading is less of a sport than others such as basketball, football, or volleyball because they are under the impression that being a cheerleader requires no real athletic talent or physical effort. This mindset couldn’t be further from the truth. Cheerleading is perhaps one of the most physically demanding sports. To be a cheerleader, one must go through rigorous training and practice all the time to perfect the performances you see on the sidelines.
The world of cheerleading isn’t just about cheering from the sidelines. Cheerleaders must be ready to sacrifice a lot of time and money into perfecting routines and physical fitness. Cheerleaders will spend three to five days a week practicing routines. In addition to practice, the expectation is to be present to cheer at all games. Often, cheerleaders will be strong role models for the young elementary aged squads and will help in mentoring them, as well as helping them perfect their skills. Cheerleading is like having a full-time job and requires sacrifices from both the cheerleaders and their families. Many school teams also compete in various competitions throughout the year. This includes both state competitions as well as national competitions. Preparing for these competitions means extra practices, tumbling sessions and fundraisers.
Just being given the opportunity to compete in one of these competitions is such an honor, but to win one is an even bigger accomplishment. From the sidelines or the bleachers, all we see is a team performing a routine. It’s much more complicated than that. Once those cheerleaders take the mat, they have to remember so many things in order for the routine to go off without a hitch, all while keeping a smile on their faces and making it look effortless. Your typical cheer competition consists of many rules that must be adhered to in order to come out on top. For example, the total routine cannot exceed two to three minutes in duration. The exact duration depends on what type of competition you are competing in. Greenup County cheerleader, Hannah Scott has been cheering for the Musketeers since the seventh grade and is currently in the eighth grade. She has earned the opportunity to compete with the Musketeers at a higher level and shared her thoughts on competitive cheer competitions, “I think the hardest part of taking the mat is knowing that we only get one chance. I know we have what it takes to win as long as we can hit. Our coaches have done everything to prepare us, and we never want to disappoint them. It is 2 minutes and 30 seconds. There is no room for mistakes!”
The routine must consist of one cheer and must include a musical segment that is at least 45 seconds in duration. Every routine requires tumbling, pyramids, and high-flying acts. Competitive cheer is exactly what it sounds like… competitive! As a team you have to stay on beat, stay synchronized in your movements, perform yours stunts with little to now error, and stay within bounds on the mats. That is a lot to have going through your head while you are trying to remember all the choreography and come in right on time with it. To be a competitive cheer champion requires the team to nail every aspect of a routine.
No one understands the physical demands of cheerleading better than the cheerleaders of Greenup County High School. Greenup County High School’s cheerleading program has an impressive resume that is definitely something to brag about. Greenup County’s cheer program has racked up a total of 16 National Championship titles that started in 1981. In early 2022, the Greenup County cheerleaders brought home their first ever World Championship title. Most recently they brought home their first State Championship Title in seven years. Scott stated, “I try not to think too much before we compete. I just tell myself that whatever happens is God's plan! We have the skills, and we know how to execute them, so I just pray that God will take the mat with us and guide us through our routine. I try to always remember that He has been with us in every performance this year, and He will always be with us no matter what, win or lose.”
Candy Berry, head coach of the Greenup County cheerleaders shared that, “the history of our cheer program is why we continue to be successful! Most of our cheerleaders have a history with our program; mom, aunt, and sister cheered. There is pride that comes being a part. Everyone who participates in our program wants to contribute and continue that pride. Seeing these girls so proud of themselves is what coaching is all about. A coach gives training, criticism, and love in hopes that their athletes get the message. Seeing their joy in a great performance is better to me than any trophies. Trophies and medals tarnish, but memories of being your best with your friends never does!”
Berry is no stranger to the cheer world herself. She started her journey within the cheer world as a cheerleader for Russell High School. Later in life, Berry came to the realization that her love for the world of cheerleading is one that just wouldn’t go away. She coached her alma mater for five years before she came to Greenup County High School in 1976. Since then, Greenup County High School has been the school to watch out for in the competitive world of cheer. Berry noted, “We’ve won 16 National Championships. KHSAA took over Kentucky State Championship in 2015. Since then, we’ve been champions three times.” Thanks to Coach Berry’s fail proof method of coaching, she has helped to put Greenup County on the map. “I always try to become a mentor and a confidant, as well. If you gain respect and belief from your athletes, you will be able to guide them on the right path to success,” stated Berry. Greenup County cheer program has created quite a legacy for itself in the world of competitive cheer and they aren’t done yet.