Legacy Junior High cheerleaders seek to improve their skills

Jun 29 2010 - 12:12am

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(MICHAEL FRIBERG/Standard-Examiner) Members of the Legacy Junior High cheer squad practice a cheer during a three-day cheerleading conference at the Davis County Conference Center on Monday.
(MICHAEL FRIBERG/Standard-Examiner) Members of the Legacy Junior High cheer squad practice a cheer during a three-day cheerleading conference at the Davis County Conference Center on Monday.

LAYTON -- "We're No. 1. We're No. 1" shouted the youngest group of cheerleaders at the United Spirit Association cheerleading camp Monday.

The 17 cheerleaders from Legacy Junior High School in Layton came to the Davis Conference Center this week for three days with 400 more cheerleaders from across the state, Idaho and Wyoming to learn how to improve their skills.

"Everyone else is from high schools and are a lot older and taller," said Hadley Burton, the captain of the junior high team.

The camp is sponsored by United Spirit Association, a for-profit organization that promotes cheerleading. Teachers at the camp are cheerleaders from colleges and universities who are hired to teach everything from dance routines, sideline routines and pep rallies to how to stay safe while cheering.

Safety has become a big part of cheerleading in the past 10 years, said Cheryl Moon, the camp director with United Spirit Association.

"There's been a huge push for safety, and now cheerleaders are restricted in what they can do," Moon said.

Moon said this is the first time her organization has sponsored a camp in Davis County and she hopes to do it again next year.

Hadley's cheerleader adviser, Jenifer Land, said when she heard about a cheerleading camp being held locally, "We were really excited."

Land teaches drama and dance at the junior high, which opened in August 2009. She said she was never a cheerleader, but when she was hired, administrators asked her if she would take over the cheerleading advising position because she had done that at Jefferson Junior High in Kearns.

"I was the one in high school who made fun of cheerleaders, but I've learned a million things since doing this, and one is that it's a lot harder than it looks," Land said.

Land said cheerleading in Davis County is "very competitive." Students who want to be cheerleaders enroll at a young age in dance, tumbling and private cheerleading classes.

"These girls are unbelievably dedicated," Land said.

Hadley said she began cheerleading when she was in fourth grade because she looked up to a cousin who was a cheerleader and wanted to be like her.

Students paid close to $250 each to participate in the camp, Land said. District policy does not allow students to pay more than that for off-campus clinics.

Hadley said it is worth coming to a private camp in the summer because it gives the teammates a chance to bond together. Since this is only the second year the school has been open, the cheerleaders all need a chance to get to know each other.

Kasey Bolingbroke, one of the Legacy Junior High cheerleaders, said being a cheerleader gives her an opportunity to "feel like I'm more part of the school."

Kasey and Hadley agree that cheerleading is much harder than it looks, especially when they need to do their tumbling routines in front of a crowd.

"It's all mental," Kasey said. "If you think too much, you'll throw it."

And for Mykell Swartz, another teammate, the time to do the pyramid is when nerves get a bit tense.

"One mistake and it's the domino effect," she said.

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