Cheerleaders find ways to help community

Maddie Magruder

At the state cheerleading competition, the RBHS team waited in anticipation as the announcer called the names of the winners.
When the cheerleaders heard RBHS had placed first in the Superlarge division, emotion overcame the team.
Senior Dessie Sprouse found the victory especially emotional. Her pride in the Superlarge squad overcame her body when RBHS won.
“This year, we kind of bonded together as a whole squad,” Sprouse said. “It was really exciting because we had a kind of rough season, a couple injuries, and girls just stepped up in the last couple weeks before we competed. When they announced us as first, there were several girls in tears of joy, I being one of them.”
Coach Jessica Kendrick attributed their win partially to small changes made from the team’s setup last year. The size of both the varsity and JV squads increased and a new Superlarge squad was made up of 27 girls as opposed to 14 from last year.
“The increase in JV cheerleaders has allowed them to master a higher level of difficulty in their stunts and gave them some great competition experience,” Kendrick said. “With the larger numbers, there seemed to be an increase in team morale and camaraderie as well. Varsity was able to have more practice time without having to split it between two squads like we had to last year and the proof is in the pudding – we won!”
Even with many hours a week devoted to cheerleading practice, the squad still finds time to give back to the community through volunteering. Their community spirit earned them the Missouri Cheerleading Coaches Association Community Service Award last year, an honor given only to one cheerleading squad in Missouri each year.
The Challenger Baseball League, a program that allows developmentally disabled children play baseball, is one of several charity events the squad participated in this year. The girls developed an emotional connection with the kids they helped to play baseball.
“They just get so excited to play with someone and to have someone there to talk to and encourage them, and it’s just so fun,” junior Natalie Hiem said.
Junior Abby Hake also found the greatest reward volunteering with the Challenger Baseball League.
“You go and help them play baseball,” Hake said. “It’s just fun to help them throw and catch and bat.”
Staying true to their reputation, the squad has three activities planned for this month alone: the Southwest Playschool Fall Festival, Alzheimer’s Walk and the American Heart Association Walk.
The team handles all kinds of activities at the Southwest Playschool Fall Festival. For the third year in a row, they will help with face painting, selling concessions and running various games.
In November the squad is looking forward to giving out Thanksgiving dinners for the program Everybody Eats, whose mission is to feed Columbia’s hungry. This is the second year the girls will help out with the organization.
The squads look forward to the future based on their great success this year.
“We have progressed and have gotten better and better each year,” Kendrick said. “The sky is the limit for our program.”