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Flyer channels cheer passion

High school hobbies often serve as short-term time fillers for students, who spend a few hours a week singing, running or writing. However, for senior Alyssa “Shorty” Powell, a passion for cheer leading consumes the majority of her free time.

After former head coach Katie Mendenhall convinced Powell to try out as a freshman, she has continued to pursue the sport. Powell, known since elementary school by her nickname because of her small stature, has attended FC since sixth grade and participated in cheer for four years. She is one of three flyers for the squad.

Sophmore Lisa Lumeya has been on the team with Shorty for two years.

“Shorty is such a great flyer! She is an important member of our squad because she works hard and is extremely dedicated to the team,” Lumeya said.

In addition to cheering at football and basketball games, the cheer squad focuses on specialized competitions. After a nerve-wracking experience at her first performance, Shorty says she became addicted to the adrenaline of the sport.

“I was so nervous [and] my heart was pounding,” Shorty said. “I didn’t want to go out there but I had to. After I got over the nerves, I had so much fun and ended up loving it.”

The close camaraderie among the cheerleaders stands out as one of Shorty’s favorite aspects of cheer, she says. In order to compete together and be responsible for throwing each other in the air, relationships are very important. Without the personal connection between the members, Shorty says competitions would be difficult.

Head coach Robin Whitford lauds Shorty as “a determined and hard worker.”

“Alyssa is such a gifted cheerleader! She continues to raise a standard of excellence for the team and knows how to mix hard work with fun,” Whitford said. “She goes above and beyond.”

Shorty’s teammates recognize her comittment to the squad.

“Shorty is very dedicated to cheer,” senior Elizabeth Grossman said. “Her adventurous streak has allowed her to excell as a flyer and tumbler over the past four years.”

Besides athleticism, Shorty uses her passion to help her lead the team.

“It’s been great having Shorty on the squad,” Grossman said. “She is a natural leader and learns new material quickly.”

As a senior this year, Shorty has had four years to improve in the sport. She also cheers for a private team called Fusion, where she says the competition is much more specialized.

“I love Fusion because it’s always a challenge for me,” Shorty said. “I get to cheer with people who love the sport as much as I do and really want to be there. A new challenge awaits at practice each day.”

Although she says it was devastating to lose Mendenhall last year, Shorty says she has adjusted well to Whitford and appreciates her spirit and love for the sport, which makes it enjoyable for the team to work together.

Though some may hesitate to classify cheer as a sport, Shorty asserts that the amount of energy and conditioning required to participate in cheer justifies such a label.

“Cheering is an important part of any school,” Shorty said. “At the football games, no matter if the team is winning or losing, we’re always encouraging and never stop supporting our team.”

After high school, Shorty intends to continue her cheer career at whichever college she attends. Every school she has considered offers a cheer program.

“I just love cheer,” Shorty said. “It’s a major part of my life. I just can’t let it go; I have to do it in college.”

The cheer squad will next perform at the Fellowship of Christian Cheerleaders competition, Feb. , and then will travel to USA Nationals in March, to be held in Anaheim.

For more information, check out Bend and twist and Cheer prepares for Clovis Pep.

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  • K

    Katie BarisicJan 29, 2011 at 12:02 am

    I don’t think it matters that you can barely tell who is who in this photo… the memory is still there. Driving to the beach was awesome, playing on the beach was even more awesome, and winning against Coast Union was the most awesome! Go Eagles!

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