Tuesday, 06 August 2019 11:32

Area cheerleaders use camp to prep for Cheer Night

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Campers during RSHS' cheer camp perform skills learned during last month's camp. Campers during RSHS' cheer camp perform skills learned during last month's camp. Deon Cranford — The Richmond Observer.

ROCKINGHAM – Richmond Senior High School’s football sesaon opener against Clayton High School will not only give fans their first real look at the 2019 Richmond Raiders, but the evening will also showcase the talent of over 100 area cheerleaders.

During the annual “Cheer Night”, the Richmond Senior varsity squad will welcome cheerleaders as young as three years old to the track to help fire up Raider Nation.  Each group will demonstrate the cheers, techniques and choreography it learned during cheer camp in late July.

At cheer camp, campers worked under the direction of coaches and their high school counterparts Monday, July 22, through Wednesday, July 24, with each day running from 8 a.m. until noon.  On Thursday, July 25, the girls took one final opportunity to fine tune their routines before showing off their skills in front of a packed house in the Raider gym at 11 a.m.

After a few friendly competitions in specific techniques, the camp finale shifted towards allowing each group to take the floor in exhibition.  The youngest group, dubbed the “Baby Raiders”, led things off.  They were followed by different age groups at the elementary school level, then the county’s four middle school squads, the Ninth Grade Academy team, the junior varsity girls and the varsity Raider cheerleaders closed things out.

“The girls did outstanding,” varsity senior leader Jali Blue said of the campers. “We taught them a lot of skills that go behind cheering.  We had a good week.”

Blue also went on to commend the efforts of the coaching staff.  “I would like to acknowledge all three coaches Meredith (Hood), Morgan (McInnis) and Callie (Ingram),” Blue continued.  “Those three ladies are the bomb.  This was Ms. Callie’s first year coaching ninth grade and she did so amazing with the girls.”

Rockingham Middle School cheerleader Ryleigh Driggers was one of several campers who felt that she benefitted from her time at camp.  “I had an amazing time learning some new dances and skills from the Richmond Raider varsity cheerleaders,” Driggers shared of her experience.  “I would like to thank Caroline Freeman because she helped me and others with a lot.”

Driggers’ Rockingham Middle teammate Kylie Hood mirrored that gratitude.  “I’d like to acknowledge Caroline Freeman, Makayla Russell and Carly Batson for helping with our team,” Hood said. 

Hood couldn’t leave out her mother, varsity coach Meredith Hood.  “I’d like to acknowledge her for setting up the camp and giving kids the chance to come out and have a lot of fun.”

Not all cheerleaders came into camp looking to improve their skills.  For some campers, it was their first cheerleading experience.  One such young lady was three-year old Layla Moree.

“This was Layla’s first year attending cheer camp,” shared Layla’s mother, Dr. Mary Catherine Moree.  “She loved every minute of being a ‘Baby Raider.’  Her favorite part was totally the ice cream and cake dance — she made us play the music every night so she could do the dance at home.  She can’t wait to get to cheer with the big girls at the first home football game.”

The fun was not limited to the campers; the veteran cheerleaders also enjoyed spending time with their younger counterparts.

“It was such a pleasure working with all of the little girls,” recalled Ashley Murphy, Richmond junior varsity cheerleader. “The excitement on their faces each morning made the day 10 times better. I feel that each girl who attended learned a lot and they proved that on their performance day. I was very proud not only with the attendees but with our teams overall.”

With camp over and football season rapidly approaching, the cheerleaders are now looking to the start of school and the many games, events and competitions ahead of them.  Each girl left camp with a desire to improve her skill set, a stronger connection to her squad mates and a commitment to her team’s success.

“No matter the obstacle you can always get through it and just keep trying,” Gracie Allen shared in a message to her fellow varsity cheerleaders.  “I say this because during our practices after cheer camp a lot of our stunts weren’t hitting and I could just tell how frustrated we were.  Even after all the frustration, we pulled through and did our best.  I love this team.  We’re all like family and I wouldn’t trade this team for anything.”

“The bond that me and my teammates have is unbreakable,” Blue added of the varsity squad.  “I love the way we can teach each other without any judgement. We are truly a family.”