The Cannon Courier
WE ARE CANNON! WE ARE CANNON! is one of the more popular cheers by the Cannon County cheerleaders during football and basketball season as their year is almost done in a couple of weeks.
However, a new Lion and Lionette squad will be formed for the 2017-18 season in April, and they will be hard at work preparing for next school year.
This year's CCHS cheerleading squad blended a mix of youth and experience, and it is one of the few sports teams on campus that is co-ed. Also, this season a new squad was formed for the middle grades, which included members from all six local grammar schools as they cheered on the new middle grade basketball team as both squads were led by new head coach Lisa Choate, who is back coaching the sport after an eight-year break from it. She has over 20 years' experience as cheer coach.
"It is great, it's like a disease, because it never got out of my blood," Choate said. "I love cheerleaders, I love it. It is a hobby, I watch it on TV, I study it all the time. To get to come back has been a dream come true. To get to do the middle grades, it has been awesome. I was really scared about that, because I am not used to middle grade kids, but they were wonderful and coachable. They listened and I am really excited to see them in high school. It has been a great experience."
The first ever CCMG cheerleading squad this season included, Jenna Meade, Kylee Davis, Bailey Cunningham, Cassie Taylor, Delaney Aycock, Ade Harwood, Rachel Choate, Michaela Sellars, Autumn Barrett, Jenna McMackins, McKenzie Bond, Emma McIntosh, Jackson Thomas (Mascot).
"It was pretty cool, because we were starting a tradition," McMackins said. "It was a lot of fun to cheer for my county for the 1sttime."
Being on the middle grade cheerleading squad was a unique experience for Rachel Choate as she got to cheer for her mom, Lisa, the head coach.
"It really did not bother me that much," Rachel said. "It was pretty much the same as if I had that was not my mom. It was nice."
Her mom Lisa added, "My children are so used to me being a teacher, they understand that it is a role that is different from momma. When we are at practice or at a game, I am the coach, but when we are at home, I am the momma. Honestly, I treat those kids like their mine, so I am always the momma. So, there is not a whole lot of difference in that."
As for the high school squad, they put in a lot of practice and time each week during the calendar year as they learn the different cheers and stunts, which they perform during games and other special events like pep rallies.
Tryouts are held in April for the following school year, and the new team starts practice the very next day.
The Lions and Lionettes practice all summer, including attending a cheerleading camp. They then take a week off before school starts. CCHS will cheer during the football season, then take a week off when it concludes. Then they cheer during basketball season, which ends either late February or early March, then they take a two to three-week break, which ends the cheer season.
The process starts all over in April, which means the squad members must relearn all the cheers and stunts, regardless of experience partly for safety reasons, Choate said.
All the CCHS cheerleaders agree nothing gets that more excited than performing in front of the huge, supportive crowds at games or events.
"It is great, because the crowd really gets into it, especially the student section, and when they get into it, it makes cheering a lot easier and more fun," CCHS senior cheerleader Raquel Novoa said.
Fellow senior cheerleader Tori Russell added, "It is awesome, because a lot of cheerleaders do not have any help from the crowd. Our crowd and community even comes, and they follow us as far as York and everywhere else. It helps us get the players pumped up, and it helps us win games."
Another unique aspect of the CCHS cheerleaders is they include guys on the team, including Leo the Lion, Chandler Todd, Jayden Coon and Landon Parton.
"We are all like brothers and sisters, and we are one big family," Coon said.
"It is fun, because the boys are so strong, and we can do more stuff," Coach Choate said. "This year, Coon and Parton, if you watch most co-ed teams the boys in high school do not actually cheer, and they come out and stunt. Both want to cheer, and them cheering on the sidelines, they are so loud, and adding those extra loud voices makes everything better.
Besides the cheerleaders, the Leo the Lion, which has been played by Todd for the past three years in high school, and Thomas for the middle grade team also plays an important role during the events.
"It is really fun, and it brings a lot of excitement to the crowd," Senior mascot Todd said. "It hypes them up for the game."
Each time you see the CCHS cheerleaders on the court or on the gridiron, they are student-athletes, too, who work just as hard as their classmates.