Cheerleading is one of the most strenuous and practice driven sports Leesville High has to offer. An array of challenging routines and tricks couple with the sound of pulsating music to create an entertaining performance for us Loonies.
Audrey Macia, a senior and cheerleader at Leesville, plays a major role in keeping the cheer team at an elite level.
“I started [cheerleading] in 8th grade after making my middle school team. The same year, I tried out and made the high school team as well,”said Macia.
It’s been a journey for Macia to make it to where she is now: a leader on the varsity cheer squad and role model for other cheerleaders to follow. She has spent countless hours in independent gyms outside of normal practice to perfect her skills. And although being designated at the base position since the beginning of her high school career, her effortless flips prove that she can perform just about anywhere on the floor.
However enjoyable it may be, the sport of cheerleading is oftentimes cast off as a supporting role to more “mainstream” sports that it supports, such as basketball and football. Audrey and the members of her Leesville cheer squad are succeeding in changing that notion. The squad came off on a high note in 2016 with a State Championship win, beating out several other highly competitive schools.
The Leesville state win propelled the team to a spot at the National High School Cheerleading Championship in Florida. “We competed twice on Saturday during the week of nationals. The whole experience was just a blur. Davidson County, a team we competed against in states, even cheered us on during the process,” she said.
No routine, however, is without its trials. “Cheerleading is a very subjective sport. We made little mistakes that nobody thought would affect our chances at reaching the finals. The workers, the camera guy, and the other teams all thought we were going to advance,” she said.
Their untimely knockout may have kept them out of national glory for now, but the advancements the team made as a whole guarantees they will be back and ready for more in the future. As for Audrey, the road to excellence isn’t over quite yet.
We traveled to Audrey’s cheer gym in Cary to watch her polish her skills en route for her Ole Miss tryout two weeks ahead. A dream school of hers, the tryouts are open and available to anyone that applies and shows up. Those who make it receive scholarships and, of course, a spot on the cheer roster. This makes the competition heavy and the stakes high.
“I’m practicing tumbling moves today. I have two moves that I absolutely need to have a chance at making the team,” she said.
Fridays at the gym are especially packed. Cheerleaders from schools across the region, including several members from Panther Creek, make up the floor. Macia takes a slight step back and executes her warm-up handsprings. She then moves on to spotter assisted drills, one of which is the double-back-handspring full pictured.
“Spotting is a weird thing. The spotter doesn’t actually help push you forward or perform the move any better. But without one, you sometimes get these mental blocks that throw you off your game, like you just can’t visualize the trick anymore.” For Macia, these mental blocks are the main challenge in preparing for upcoming meets and tryouts.
Nearly landing the major stunt unassisted, the, Macia is nonetheless disappointed at her result. But this disappointment is quick to wear off. Landing several other challenging moves prior, the day is a success for Macia.
Although nervous for her upcoming tryouts down in Mississippi, she is enthusiastic for what lies ahead. “I’m very excited, not gonna lie,” she said in response to her upcoming tryouts.
Wishing to major in graphic design, Macia wants cheer to be a lasting activity throughout her college career.
“I’d say that cheer has made me into a better person. Besides being able to better my skills on the floor, the sport has helped me to stay focused both in school and regarding the people I surround myself with. And if I ever feel like giving up, landing a new stunt makes me fall in love with it all over again.” she said.