By Chris Cox
After seeing six seniors graduate from last year’s squad, Oklahoma Union cheer coach Monica Richardson knew she’d have a young group. “Having a young squad this year has brough many challenges,” Richardson says. “Our returning cheerleaders have spent many long hours at practice teaching the rookie all of our sideline cheers as well as the band dances. However, gaining these rookies is exciting because they are eager to try new things.”
One way Richardson has tried to get her team prepared for the year is by taking them to camp this summer. “We attended UCA Camp which improved our skills in stunting as well as cheers and dances,” Richardson says. “At camp we had several spirit awards and six girls that received the All-American title.”
With the young squad, Richardson is relying on her leaders to help push this group to be its best. “One of our leaders is junior co-captain Katie Davis,” Richardson says. “She has been cheering since she was a little girl, and this is her third year cheering in high school. She goes above and beyond to help us achieve our goals. Teaming up to help her is senior co-captain Shelbi Key.”
With just two seniors, underclassmen, like Davis, are being called on to carry a big role as well. “Emma Lemos is a sophomore,” she says. “She is our main flyer in most of our pyramids. She is physically strong and energetic. Junior Kate Eveleigh has been a leader on this squad and is known as our ‘team mom.’ She brings a positive attitude to every practice and every game.”
The makeup of this team also allows Richardson to push that the idea of being a cohesive group. “We are a team,” she says. “Each girl is a valuable member of our squad!”
Overall, Richardson is excited about this squad. In her 10 years coaching, she has learned to appreciate every one of her squads and believes cheer can help build strong young people. “I love my job as a cheer coach,” she says. “I’m always on the lookout for girls or guys who are not involved in a sport or who might have potential qualities to become part of the squad. I feel like cheer is great for one’s self esteem and builds confidence!”
The Oklahoma Union cheer roster includes Shelbi Key (Sr), Abigail Caldwell (Sr), Katie Davis (Jr), Kate Eveleigh (Jr), Lindsay Hagebusch (Jr), Madison Tanner (Jr), Kaitlyn Brackett (Jr), Jenna Thompson (Jr), Kinley Cook (Jr), Emma Lemos (Soph), Nicole Sellers (Soph), Macyn Reiman (Fr), Janessa King (Fr), and Kara Zorn (Fr).