GREENUP fans took to the streets of Greenup Saturday night to cheer on the Greenup County High School cheerleaders as they returned from winning the 2022 Kentucky High School Athletic State Championship title Association.
Cheerleading coach Candy Berry said the win is big for the team.
“I’m excited for the school and for the kids,” she said. “A state championship is something to be excited about. It doesn’t happen very often.”
She said the cheerleaders were greeted by friends, families and several fire trucks.
“That was fun for the kids,” Berry said. “This is a new group of kids who haven’t experienced winning at this level.”
Of the 24 team members, only two are seniors: Rylee Mitchell and Erin Webster.
“The future looks very bright for this cheer team,” Berry said.
The event in Winchester was attended by support from the community, including coaches and family members and friends of cheerleaders. “We had a nice crowd support,” she said.
Berry developed an interest in cheering when she was a cheerleader for Russell High School, where she coached for five years before taking the head coaching position at Greenup County High School in 1976. In 1980, she led her team in the inaugural National High School Cheerleading. Championship in 1980 at Sea World in Orlando. The Musketeers have taken the mat at the national cheerleading championship every year since. Her team won 16 national championships, starting in 1981.
The state title comes from the same organization that presents the boys tournament with Butch Cope, associate commissioner of the KHSAA, handing out the trophies.
Berry said the team had one shot to win: The squads performed a routine that lasted 2 1/2 minutes and incorporated certain necessary elements.
“You’re graded on your ability to engage the crowd, how you perform the stunts and the pyramids and the level of difficulty you choose,” Berry said.
The cheerleaders practice at Pride Athletics, owned by Kristin Martin, a former cheerleader until Berry’s guidance. She also noticed support from the school.
“We have the most supportive administration, from the superintendent and the school board and the principal,” she said. “I just don’t think everybody has the kind of support that we do.”
She said the team is made up of many overachieving students who know what they are getting into when they become a cheerleader.
“Honestly, when they decide to be part of this program, they know that they will learn what it takes to succeed, whether that’s first or fourth place. They still thrive by learning skills like time management, how to work with people and other life skills,” said Berry. “They are willing to put in the time and take constructive criticism. They work hard not only on cheer skills, but try to stay involved with the community. … Many of them enter with the tradition of their parents or other family members who cheered them on and want to continue the tradition. They know what the story is and they are ready to take the battle.”