Highlander cheer squad wins awards in Branson

Tuesday, August 14, 2018
The Eureka Springs Highlander cheer team is ready for a spirited school year after training at a cheer camp.
Tavi Ellis / Carroll County News

Eureka Springs High School cheerleaders had the opportunity to hone their skills at a cheer camp in Branson during the last weekend in July, bringing home several awards for their performance.

Makenzie Meyer won the spirit award, Valeria Sanchez won the attitude is everything award and the squad received the award for most improved team throughout the camp.

"We are trying to regain our numbers and confidence because for a lot of them, it's the first year they have cheered," said cheer coach Stephanie Stodden. "I think this camp showed a lot of them that they can do it."

Stodden said she believes the camp will pay off for her team.

"This camp incorporated a pretty intense workout with activities such as movies and Whitewater," Stodden said. "That allowed them to get to know each other, because there are some who are coming up from the eighth grade. Also, they got to see a bunch of the other cheer squads and hopefully what we can do in the future."

Keenan Galyen, a senior and one of two male cheerleaders on the team, said it was a learning experience for everyone.

"We got to learn a hip-hop dance and sideline cheers," Galyen said. "We learned about stunting and great things that will help us throughout the year. It was good for us."

Tarrah Youngblood said the team met students from other schools and did different activities while in Branson.

"We got to go to the movies and hang out at Whitewater," Youngblood said. "It was a good experience all around."

It was a three-day camp and Riley Smith said she learned something different each day.

"The first day we went there and did a hip-hop dance and learned one of the cheers," Smith said. "The second day we did more hip-hop and some sideline cheers. We also learned our dance routine. And then the third day, we competed."

Sanchez has been doing cheer for two years and said the camp was very beneficial for her.

"I feel like we learned how to do a front flip and how to land in the proper place while doing a stunt," Sanchez said. "I feel like that is something we wouldn't learn just anytime."

Alison Wolfinbarger, a senior who has been cheering since seventh grade, said the cheer squad gained confidence from the camp.

"We learned a whole lot of stunts that we thought we never could do," Wolfinbarger said. "We are proud of ourselves for that. We learned a lot of things we can show off to the crowd this coming season."

Stodden's ultimate goal is to enter the team in cheer competitions.

"I'm not sure this year, but next year we are going to take them to some competitions in Bentonville to show them what competitive cheerleading is," Stodden said.

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