Four local cheerleaders headed to the Aloha State

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, November 5, 2002

When people think of popular sports, the word &uot;cheerleading&uot; doesn’t usually come to mind. Kristen Myers can’t understand why.

&uot;Cheering is really hard,&uot; says Myers, the captain of the senior squad of the All-American Spirit (AAS) cheerleading team (the squad also has youth and junior squads).

&uot;You have to practice all the stunts over and over until you get them right, and everyone always works really hard. Plus, cheerleading was on ESPN, so it MUST be a sport.

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&uot;I wish that people wouldn’t look at cheerleading as something for the pretty, popular, and preppy people. When you’re cheering, you’re only judged on whether you really like what you’re doing.&uot;

At the Atlantic Cheer and Dance Spirit and Spook Classic in Williamsburg on Oct. 26, Myers and the rest of the AAS showed their competitors, their parents, the judges, and themselves how high their passion for the sport of cheerleading ran.

The youth squad took first in their division, and the juniors and seniors took third.

Their accomplishments earned the youth and junior teams bids to compete in the Atlantic’s Battle at the Capitol Championships, which will be held in Washington, D.C., in March. Should the seniors perform well at January’s Atlantic Cheer and Dance competition at Hampton University, they’ll join their younger teammates at the national’s capital.

Four local cheerers, including Myers, received a special honor at the Williamsburg event; they were chosen by All-American Cheer and Dance for the organization’s 2004 National Scholarship Invitational and Hawaii Performance Tour. This includes a weeklong trip to Hawaii in late January, culminating in a performance at the NFL’s Pro Bowl event in Honolulu.

Myers, Ashli Taylor, Katlyn Culbertson, and Kortni Stickels were chose to take the trip to the Land of Leis. Myers, Taylor, and Culbertson are students at Lakeland High School; Stickels attends Forest Glen Middle School (all four cheer for the Lakeland junior varsity football team).

Stickels wants to use her trip to get a tan. &uot;I can’t wait to go to the beach in Hawaii!&uot; she said. &uot;I haven’t been to the beach in a while, and I think that the waves are going to be bigger and the water clearer than I’ve ever seen!&uot;

Culbertson can’t resist the attraction of cheerleading. &uot;I’ve tried sports like soccer, softball, and tennis, but cheering is still my favorite sport,&uot; said the freshman Lady Cavalier, who cheered for the Holland Athletic Association before Lakeland.

She calls herself the &uot;main flyer&uot; of the AAS. &uot;I’m the person that gets lifted in the air. That’s probably the best feeling ever, because when you’re done, you always know you’ve done your best.&uot;

That’s how Taylor felt after being selected to visit Hawaii. &uot;My teammates were all hugging and congratulating me. There’s so much team spirit and effort on this team.&uot;