MAIZE, Kan. (KSNW) – What the Maize High School cheerleader may lack in height, she makes up for in spirit.
Senior Katie Scheer is 3 feet 11 inches tall. She is often the smallest on the cheerleading mat, but her heart and love for the sport is bigger than most can imagine.
“It’s kind of like what I enjoy and I’m passionate about,” Katie Scheer said.
Scheer’s passion for cheerleading began in high school.
“In sixth grade, I was probably watching the cheerleaders at the pep rally and I was like, ‘oh my gosh, I can do so many cool things. Why don’t I do this?’ I just came home to my parents, and I was like, ‘Can I try this,’ and they said, ‘Yeah, here you go,'” Sheer explained.
The rest is history. Scheer joined her high school cheerleading squad. He now cheers for Maize High School’s varsity team. However, the road to becoming a cheerleader was not very smooth. Scheer will admit that her confidence is shaken at times.
“Back then, I didn’t think I could do some of what I’m doing now,” she said. “I honestly think if I hadn’t joined the team, I probably wouldn’t be where I am today.”
Scheer has achondroplasia, a form of dwarfism that impairs bone growth in the limbs and can cause abnormal growth of the spine and skull.
“My torso is the same, but my arms and legs are shorter, but that’s kind of it,” Scheer said. “I think my head is considered a bit bigger too.”
Scheer said she had a hard time connecting with others. Sometimes she wasn’t sure if she fit in.
“As a child, it was probably difficult just because I was seen differently growing up, but as I developed friends and my family, they were very supportive,” she said.
That support system grew as she developed friends on the cheerleading squad.
“They pushed me and they knew I struggled with connecting with others, so it just pushed me out of my comfort zone,” she explained.
Scheer’s joie de vivre also pushed some of her teammates out of their comfort zone.
“To be a cheerleader, you have to be loud and have an elan and she brings all of that to our team and we definitely wouldn’t be who we are without her,” said Maize Cheer Captain Cora Malone. “I am personally nervous to be in front of such an audience, especially during basketball games that are directly outside. It definitely made me more confident in myself and made me a better leader overall.”
Malone said Scheer is a natural leader who knows how to make everyone feel included, adding that Scheer taught her an important life lesson: anything is possible.
“No matter who you are, where you come from, you can do anything you want to do and just believe in yourself,” Malone said.
KSN asked Scheer what it’s like to know she’s encouraging others to be who they are.
“It’s just nice to know that people are inspired by it,” Scheer said. “I can help others.”
After graduating from high school, Scheer plans to continue helping others. She will study pediatric nursing at the University of Kansas.