Thanks to near flawless performances and hard work, earning the right to perform in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Florida has become an almost annual tradition for the Carroll County High School cheerleaders. This year, the Cavalier cheer team has received an even bigger honor as it has been selected as one of just eight squads to perform in the ACC Championship football game this December in Charlotte, N.C.
Carroll County earned that right this summer by winning first place for Game Day Cheer and Game Day Overall during Cheerleading Camp at Appalachian State University. A total of 18 Carroll varsity cheerleaders (four seniors, 12 juniors and two sophomores) helped the Cavs win superior ribbons in all categories as Carroll stood out as tops among a group of 450 cheerleaders at the Boone, N.C. camp.
“I am so impressed with how great this group really came together and worked hard to achieve those awards. They are amazing cheerleaders but more importantly great young people,” said Carroll County cheerleading coach Nicole Lyons, now in her 22nd season of coaching the Cavaliers. “I am definitely proud of this squad and am looking forward to many fantastic things this year. The ACC Championship Game is going to be something that they will always remember.”
Additionally, six Carroll cheerleaders were selected as All-Americans after trying out for the recognition in Boone. Seniors Tia Anderson, Emily Gibson and Laken Hodges will now have the opportunity to perform in London, England in a parade over Christmas Break, while JV cheerleaders Sarah Hodges, Mahayla Watson and 9th grader Cameron Burnette will perform in Philadelphia as a result of the honor.
Carroll County was also one of just two squads selected to receive the Tradition Award, given to teams for hard work and dedication year after year.
“We always work really hard, and it’s nice to know it pays off, and that they the UCA staff recognize it every year,” Gibson said.
“The whole squad worked extra hard for this opportunity,” Anderson added. “We all were just so amazed and proud to have an opportunity to perform in the ACC Championship.”
Hodges said Carroll competed with many squads at the ASU Camp, where they were evaluated on an extreme routine sideline, and a game day performance.
“We ended up placing first in our sideline and game day performance and have the exciting opportunity to perform in the ACC Championship game in Charlotte this December,” Hodges said. “We could not be more thrilled.”
“When we found out we were performing in the ACC Championship Game we all jumped up and started screaming we were so excited,” Swain added.
Anderson said Carroll’s consistency in earning such prestigious cheerleading honors is a testament to Coach Lyons. Lyons always demands the best out of her cheerleaders.
“The whole squad works hard and we all get along. It has been a real blessing getting to cheer for three years on varsity,” she said. “The Carroll squad has an amazing coach that supports and takes time out to help us become who we are today. Everyone is looking forward to many more rewards.”
Hodges said it was an amazing moment when six of the Carroll cheerleaders were selected as All-Americans. She called it a moment of “happy tears.” Now, they will go to work trying to raise money to make the trips to London and Philadelphia possible.
“It was such a nerve-wracking try-out, but truly an honor to be recognized as an All-American. We have the once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform in a parade in London, England over Christmas break,” Hodges said. “We will have to raise over $3,000 each for our trip. In this case, we are planning to do tons of fundraising. So, any support from our community, family, and friends will be greatly appreciated.”
The word cheerleading has the stereotype of not being a sport, Hodges said, but the cheerleaders of Carroll County High School want nothing more than to make it known as one.
“We put lots of hard work into whatever we may do. Whether it is cheering for our teams, preparing for competition or performing in front of thousands of people, we are always on our feet and getting the fans pumped,” Hodges said. “Earning all the honors is our bragging rights. We love the attention. After all, we are sideline distraction.”