AT ROTARY. Senior cheerleaders and Coach Susan Renfrow spoke at the Feb. 19 Nashville Rotary Club meeting. The group includes Abby Herzog, Avery Kesterson, Jayla Jacques, Jana Copeland, Jennifer Gamble, Kathleen Lance, Emily Herzog and Coach Susan Renfrow.
By John R. Schirmer
Senior members of the Scrapper cheerleader squad told about their state championship season at the Feb. 19 meeting of the Nashville Rotary Club.
Nashville won the Class 4A state title in Hot Springs. Coach Susan Renfrow and her seven seniors told Rotarians about cheering and the state finals.
“I’m losing nearly half of the [15-member] squad next year,” Renfrow said. “They’re great girls.”
Renfrow introduced each senior and talked briefly about her contribution to the cheerleaders.
Jayla Jacques “cracks the whip in the cheer room. She gets things done,” Renfrow said.
Avery Kesterson “is our media girl. She did the video” of cheer highlights which the girls showed Rotarians.
Twins Emily and Abby Herzog bring different talents to the squad. “Emily is our flier. She’s up for anything. Abby is very structured; she overthinks everything. She’s a base, and she can also fly.”
Jennifer Gamble “Is good with facts. She has any stats we need. She knows leading scorers. She loves sports,” Renfrow said.”
Jana Copeland “takes care of media. She’s our publicist. She’s also our choreographer,” Renfrow said.
Kathleen Lance “is the boss if I can’t be there. She makes sure everything is done.”
The seniors “had a lot of responsibilities that we as spectators take for granted. I hope we get more to take their place,” Renfrow said.
While the seniors cheered from junior high on through high school, “Junior high and high school are two different things. There’s the physical part that improves a ton from junior high to senior high. We don’t send junior high to sell ads. High school goes to the businesses and gets the information back to me” for the football program, Renfrow said.
Unlike other sports, cheerleaders have one shot at winning. “You get two and a half minutes to show you’re the best” during competition, according to Renfrow.
Nashville cheerleaders are selected by out-of-town judges during tryouts, Renfrow said. “I don’t pick the squad. There’s a misconception of rich girls, smart girls, popularity contest. These girls take it very seriously.”
Each senior talked about different aspects of cheerleading.
“There’s not as much pressure in junior high. It’s different in the way the community looks at you in high school. There’s more responsibility. You have bigger crowds. Competition is more serious when the prize is a state championship,” Kesterson said.
Tryouts can be stressful, Lance said. “Some girls are excited. Some say it’s the worst day of their lives. We practice every day before tryouts. You have to make a creative judge by yourself. You practice your smile. There’s a lot of running around trying to get ready, then it starts.”
Seniors are responsible for teaching a cheer to the girls who are trying out. Other performances are also a part of tryouts, Lance said. When tryouts are completed, the girls leave the Scrapper Dome and Athletic Director James “Bunch” Nichols announces the results on KMTB Radio. “It’s kind of a melancholy time. For the seniors, it’s the end of our career. It’s sad for the girls who don’t make it,” Lance said.
After tryouts, the new squad and parents meet with Renfrow. “She tells us cheerleaders should be responsible, honorable, respectable. We’re in public a lot. It’s more than just leading the crowd in cheers,” Emily Herzog said. “We’re leaders in the community. I work hard in and out of school. People know me because I cheer. So many little girls come up and hug me. We all try to give them the best example we can.”
The squad has two fund-raisers, including football program ad sales and the annual cheer clinic.
Last fall, 108 girls attended the clinic. “It means a lot to me,” Jacques said. “It’s one of the best memories I have from being a little girl. I knew then that I wanted to be a cheerleader. You see yourself out there when the little girls come to the clinic. We want to build a foundation for their dreams like I did.”
Copeland told about competition. “You’re behind a curtain before you go out on the mat to perform. It’s nerve racking. It’s the most terrifying but most amazing feeling in the world.”
Once the performance was over, the girls awaited the results. “We were sitting on a mat,” Gamble said, “and they called out Valley View, then us. We broke the trophy and put it back together. We wanted the trophy for Mrs. Renfrow more than for us.”
Abby Herzog said the girls gain a great deal from cheering. “There’s school and community service. We become more confident. We want to be a good role model and a good example. We have to manage our time between cheering and school. We’ve all benefitted and gained so much.”
Lance, Kesterson and Emily Herzog were named All-Star cheerleaders, Renfrow said. They will cheer at the Arkansas All-Star football game June 27 at the University of Central Arkansas. Abby Herzog received All-State honors.
Renfrow was named head coach of the West All-Star cheerleaders.
In business items considered by Rotarians, the organization made plans for its upcoming pancake dinner. Officers were elected for the new year.
NHS junior Jackson Beavert told the club that he wants to start an Interact chapter at high school. Interact is Rotary’s program for high school students. “I moved here from Pleasant Grove at Texarkana. We had an awesome Interact chapter there. It would be good to start here,” he said.