Cheering seniors say goodbye

Published 12:00 am Saturday, November 8, 2003

Suffolk News-Herald

At the Southeastern district cheerleading competition today at Oscar Smith High School, be sure to look out for Kenedra Davis, Mary-Kate Mansfield, and the rest of the Nansemond River High School senior cheerleaders; it may be the last time all of them ever cheer together.

Listen for their words as they tell (in a noticeably loud tone of voice) the rest of the district how great it feels to be a Lady Warrior. &uot;Ready, NRH Warriors, fight to win!&uot; the girls will scream. &uot;Come on team, with all your might! Let’s not give in, get up! Red, on your feet, let’s show the crowd who can’t be beat! Red, black and white, we’re the best all along. Come on, teams – bring it on!&uot;

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But don’t look for Davis and Mansfield after the performance; chances are, they won’t want to be seen. &uot;I’m going to cry,&uot; says Davis, in her third year as a varsity Lady Warrior cheerer. &uot;I’m going to really miss cheerleading at a high school level. It’s more unified than it will be in college. Here, you’re always together in a little building, instead of being scattered around and seeing your teammates once a week. You’re usually happy to graduate, but this is going to be emotional for me. I’m going to cheer my heart out.&uot; Despite her reservations, Davis plans to continue her cheering career at Norfolk State University.

&uot;It’s going to be very sad,&uot; admits Mansfield, the captain of the squad (Davis and Maia Jones are co-captains), &uot;but we worked very hard for this. I’m happy; not because I’m leaving, but because this is the strongest team I’ve ever been a part of.&uot; The Lady Warriors took fifth place at the USA Invitational meet last month at Ocean Lakes High School in Virginia Beach.

While Davis, Mansfield, Jones and the rest of the seniors helped the school squad into the new millennium, it’s up to newcoming sophomore like Cherrelle Artis and Jessica Maddox to carry on the tradition. &uot;It’s fun, but it’s really hard,&uot; Artis says. &uot;As a team, we always believe in ourselves and each other.&uot;

Maddox is looking forward to becoming a cheering veteran. &uot;I’m more confident in myself, and I know what to expect,&uot; she says. &uot;I’m learning from my mistakes, and setting higher goals for myself.&uot;

For the past few years, the two Suffolk teams have typically finished around the bottom of the district tournament rankings. Over at Lakeland, cheering Lady Cavaliers like Brandi Tyeryar and Jessica Dildy are working to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Tyeryar will be easy to see at the competition; she’ll be the one in blue and white getting hurled nearly 20 feet into the air by her teammates! &uot;It’s exhilarating to be up there, because I’m really high!&uot; she says. &uot;I’m just going to smile and have fun.&uot;

Dildy doesn’t have a favorite Lakeland cheer. Neither do many of her teammates. &uot;We’re more about stunts,&uot; she says. &uot;It’s more of a challenge than cheering or dancing, and it’s what catches the crowd’s attention. People think that anyone can be a cheerleader, but we’re showing that it’s a real sport that requires a lot of strength, technique, coordination, and overall good athleticism.&uot;

In her debut on the competition team, Jennifer Westnedge prefers stunts as well. &uot;Learning a cheer is easy,&uot; she says. &uot;Stunts are more of a challenge because you have to have patience to keep going over and over them until you get them right.&uot;