Full of spirit is how All-American Greenwave cheerleader Kara Sausley chooses to live her life.
She loves cheering for Leeds, her friends, family and community.
Sausley is a thirteen-year-old eighth-grader at Leeds Middle School (LMS) whose favorite school subject is history.
“My history teacher, Mrs. Baldwin is very happy and lively,” Sausley said. “I like being in her class.”
A first-time cheerleader, her mother Rachel also cheered for the first time in eighth grade.
“I’ve never done it before in my life,” Sausley said. “My mom did that when she was younger. At least 20 people tried out and about 14 are on the team. Cheering for your team—it’s a good feeling.”
Over Thanksgiving weekend, Sausley experienced the ultimate in cheerleading, as she was one of eight hundred All-American Cheerleaders to walk in the Thanksgiving Day Parade at Magic Kingdom.
“At cheer camp in the summer, we had the opportunity to try out for All-American, and I wanted to do it because my mom did it,” Sausley said. “Six of us from LMS tried out and four of us made All-Americans.”
As the parade weaved its way through the Magic Kingdom, the Varsity Spirit All-American cheerleaders chanted, “Spirit is high, Thanksgiving is here. Celebrate today with joy and cheer!”
While meeting other Alabama girls, Sausley and her teammates were asked to participate in a shirt swap.
“I brought a Buc-ee shirt and got a Helena Cheerleader shirt,” Sausley said.
Sausley and her mom came up with a plan so that Rachel could find Kara among the cheering crowd during the parade.
“At cheer camp, a Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) coach gave them a red string to tie to their shoe and mom looked for the string. She also came to our rehearsal and saw where I would be.”
Sausley’s favorite thing about cheering is that she is a flyer, which means she is the person in the air during a stunt.
“It’s exciting, she said. “I hit a stretch (cheer stunt) and I’m very sharp. My goals for this season are to hit clearance and for our team to have a good season and have fun.”
Also, her first time at Disney, Sausley said her favorite ride was Guardians of the Galaxy: Cosmic Rewind.
“We were in a pod spinning. Sometimes we were in complete darkness and it felt like we were in orbit,” Sausley said. “I was there for the thrill rides.”
Summing up her All-American Disney experience, Sausley said, “The staff members were so sweet. I had fun with the whole experience. Being there representing Leeds was super fun.”
When Sausley is not rejoicing, she enjoys listening to country music, spending time with family and friends, and watching Christmas movies.
“My favorite Christmas movie is Christmas Vacation,” she said. “We look at it when we put the tree up.”
For Sausley, community means being one big family.
“Community is about being there for each other,” she said. “You represent where you come from and represent it well. Community means all good things.”
Good things also come in the form of family.
Sausley’s parents, Kendall and Rachel, are owners of the Valley Repair Service based in St. Louis County.
Sausley has a 10-year-old brother, Kamden, and their beloved three-year-old pit bull mix, Astro. She is also close with her Mimi and Pop Pop, Barbara and Wayne Gardner.
“I love going to their house,” Sausely said. “I like to cook with my Mimi. Especially at Thanksgiving, and I like to bake.”
During the Christmas break, Sausley looks forward to sleeping with friends, relaxing and hanging out with family. Her perfect day includes sleeping in until at least 11, lunch at Panera, dining on their mac’n’cheese or chicken sandwich and of course their cookies.
Shopping at Target and Lululemon, drinking a double chocolate chip Frappuccino, hanging out with friends and riding roller coasters or going to a trampoline park makes for a great day.
“Any time with friends is always a fun time,” Sausley said.
Some of her favorite things include home improvement shows like “Good Bones” with mom and daughter team Karen Laine and Mina Hawk, better known as Two Chicks and a Hammer.
She also loves fashion and anything to do with design, whether in the fashion industry or with home decor.
When she grows up, she wants to be an interior designer, fashion designer or interior decorator.
Family friend Shea Callaway inspires Sausley to be her best self.
“Shea is really friendly and has a wonderful personality,” Sausley said. “She is a NICU nurse at Children’s. She is a very humble and genuine sweet person.”
Before the New Year, in 2023 Sausley wants to cheer on a university class as a ninth grader at Leeds High School.
“I’m excited to be a freshman,” she said. “I also really want it to be five feet tall. I’d also like to get more baking skills.”
As for what she loves about her hometown of Leeds, she said it’s all about living that city life.
“I like the way our town is, it’s small and beautiful. Leeds is a good feeling,” she said.
When asked to sum up her life in one word or phrase, Sausley dropped some wisdom, saying, “Life is a highway. It has bumpy roads, turns, hills, it even has a few wrecks, but you get past them. Watch out for those four-lanes though— ugh.”
Cheering her way through eighth grade, Sausley says cheer allowed her to come out of her shell.
“When I’m happy, I’m definitely in a better mood and I’m happier,” she said. “As a cheerleader, when you pump up the crowd, it pumps you up.”