Archive for Sunday, July 15, 2007

Cheerleaders hone athletic skills with mentors at special KU camp

July 15, 2007



Hannah Fair kicked Kansas University cheerleader Chris Landrum in the face, as members of the Perry-Lecompton cheer squad extended her into the air. She forgot to keep her leg in.

But Landrum, a senior from Independence, kept on cheering.

"It's looking good," he said. "I'm impressed."

Eight cheerleaders from Perry-Lecompton High School have joined 167 other junior high and high school students from across Kansas for camp at KU that runs through today.

They watched as members of KU's cheer squad performed stunts.

Then the KU students helped the teenagers imitate some of their moves.

But for the Perry-Lecompton squad, it's extra special.

In the past, they've had a cheerleader come to their school during the summer to work with them. This year they have a new coach, and she took them on the road.

And the girls said they're having fun, but taking their jobs seriously. Out of the 15 schools that came to the camp, the Perry-Lecompton cheerleaders were the only squad to put together a routine to show off when camp started.

"We were very nervous," said 16-year-old Sydney Allen, of Lecompton.

The girls said they knew the camp would make them better cheerleaders. But it doesn't come easy.

As the girls practiced the "liberty" stunt, incoming freshman Abbey Bays was struggling to stay balanced on the hands of the other cheerleaders.

Several times she fell.

Landrum made her balance her heel on his shoe for several minutes.

Then, after a few more attempts, her liberty was a success.

"They're really good mentors for these girls," said Perry-Lecompton cheer sponsor Jessie Hobbs.

The camp is also a time for the girls to bond. They are staying in the KU dorms during the three days they're in Lawrence. They tell stories of stuffing their faces with Skittles and getting to know one another outside their element.

They get up early to practice every Tuesday and Thursday morning during the summer. With the Perry-Lecompton bridge construction, they rotate practicing at the school in Perry and at a squad member's house in Lecompton.

The team is working hard so it can win its first exhibition after the school year starts.

And, it's here where they're able to get a sneak peek at some of their competition.

"If they do something I can't do, it makes me want to improve," said squad member Angelina Castaldi, of Lecompton.

"It is becoming more of a sport," Hobbs said. "It's definitely a lot more athletic than it used to be. Not so much foo-foo and fun."


OldEnuf2BYurDad 10 years, 8 months ago

I used to work security in the residence halls in the summer. They'd have various camps staying in the dorms, and someone had to work the front desk overnight (and do nothing - we used to watch that low power TV station that just played music videos - what was it? Channel 47 "The Spot"? I remember they guy called his show "Nocturnal Bonsai"). I worked cheerleading camp as well. These girls would get bored, so they'd come downstairs and try to go out walking around at night. In the dark. Alone. I'd have to turn them around and tell them to get back to their rooms. One girl I remember particularly well: she wanted to go outside (I think a "boy" was out there), but it looked like she wasn't wearing anything but a t-shirt. She had a hard time understanding why I didn't think it a good idea for a 15 year old girl to be wandering around campus at midnight wearing nothing but a shirt.

But I have some really good strories from the International Rugby Convention people that stayed in Oliver Hall. These Brits and Aussies would run around the fields all day in 95 degree heat, then go drinking. They'd come in just before dawn (sometimes with the help of the police), even though they knew they had to be back on the fields before 8:00. They'd do this EVERY NIGHT for a week. Even the cops were amazed.

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