One of the most successful coaches in Carroll County High School’s history is retiring after 22 years of service.
Nicole Lyons, head cheerleading coach at CCHS for the past 19 seasons, recently announced her retirement from coaching. Lyons leaves behind an impressive legacy. During her tenure, CCHS cheerleading teams won four regional cheer competitions, six district cheer titles, and competed at the state level nine times.
Carroll cheerleaders have also earned the honor of performing in the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. 11 different times. This past year, CCHS cheerleaders were one of just a handful of squads selected to perform in the ACC Football Championship in Charlotte, N.C. In addition to the team awards, under Lyons’ tutelage, CCHS has sent 39 cheerleaders to London and three to Paris to perform over the Christmas holidays.
“Coach Lyons has put in a tremendous amount of time and effort into her coaching career over the past 22 years. Over that period of time, there have been several trips to college bowl games and to London - trips that wouldn’t have been possible for our young ladies had she not put forth the effort to make it a reality,” CCHS Principal Chuck Thompson said. “Nine of her former cheerleaders have cheered in college and she has had a tremendous influence over countless more.”
Lyons estimates she has coached well over 500 cheerleaders during her time at CCHS. A World Geography and U.S. History teacher for 23 years, Lyons said she decided to step down from coaching in order to spend more time with her family. It has not been an easy thing to do.
“It was a very difficult decision to make since these girls are the kids I never had. I had to come to terms with the fact that I needed to be there more for my family and devote more time to them at this stage in my life,” Lyons said. “This decision to retire from coaching cheerleading was extremely hard to make. I couldn’t even get the words out to Coach Matthews and Mr. Thompson, for I was too upset when I gave them my letter. That should show how much I care about these kids. They are my other family. I prayed about it over and over. I still don’t know if I have done the right thing, but only time will tell that. I know I won’t be a stranger to Cavalier Cheerleading.”
Past and present Cavalier cheerleaders say things just won’t be the same without Lyons. Senior Laken Hodges has been in Lyons’ cheerleading program since she was a freshman.
“She has certainly been a blessing to me. Over the past four years she has taught me a lot about cheerleading, but also how to be successful in life. She has encouraged me to make the best of situations, to keep a positive attitude, and to most importantly be confident in myself,” Hodges said. “She has seen a lot of us girls go through many challenges and she was always there to support us all. I would say her dedication has gone way beyond any coach’s salary.”
Jenna Jackson, a 2007 graduate of CCHS, has gone on to a successful career in the performing arts. She said Lyons gave CCHS cheerleaders many opportunites that would have never been possible. She also had a knack for bringing out the best in each cheerleader.
“Each year Coach Lyons equipped her cheerleaders with the skills needed to do well at team camp at Appalachian State University. Our squad always finished with high honors and often was awarded the Camp Tradition Award due to our respect for the staff and camp skills, as well as the Leadership Award, voted on by other squads for standing out as great people to interact with as well as talented cheerleaders,” Jackson said. “All of this was a testament to the coaching and direction of Coach Lyons.”
Jackson said Lyons also gave cheerleaders outlets to excel and push themselves through cheerleading competition. Additionally, the Carroll coach taught members of the squad to give back to the community by working the Cheer Clinic each year.
“She is more than a coach and a teacher, she is a mentor and has touched many lives over her 22 years of service to the Carroll County community,” Jackson said. “She has the ability to take students of all backgrounds and personalities and utilize their talents and abilities to be a part of a team environment. She has established a brand of CCHS Cheerleading that has been intact for as long as I can remember. That brand is a group of women with strong voices, classy appearances, beautiful stunts, leaders in the student body, hard workers physically and academically, and most importantly kind giving hearts.”
Her willingness to give to others and open her heart to students at CCHS has changed many lives forever.
“Many of us refer to the cheerleading squad as family because Coach Lyons took us in and accepted us for who we were all and that we hoped to be in the future! Many who did not have a family of their own to confide in where able to turn to Coach Lyons for help and guidance,” Jackson said. “When I look back at my experience at Carroll County High School, the lasting memories I have with the Cheerleading Squad and the incredible Coach Lyons are ones that stand out and will last a lifetime.”