By Tim Chambers
Trying to watch a football game without cheerleaders is a lot like trying to eat popcorn at the movies without butter, salt, and a cold drink to go with it. It just doesn’t work.That best describes trying to watch a Johnson County football game without the cheerleaders there to pump up the crowd. That does not work either. This was the case in the first game of the season at Sullivan East. The Longhorns didn’t have cheerleaders while East had vocal ones and a large home crowd cheering them on.
“I went to the game,” said senior cheerleader Emmy Miller. “It was hard sitting in the stands as a fan not being able to get the crowd fired up. It was great when we got to cheer the next week at Sullivan North.”
Miller was referring to Johnson County’s big win the following week at Sullivan North. Fans were saying how much like football it felt having the cheerleaders there with fans in the stands.
“The players told us we were loud, and they like having us there,” said senior captain Bella Phipps. “You love hearing that as a cheerleader. It makes you feel like part of it.”
Miller knows what it means to be a part of it. She is one of the team’s top players for the Lady Longhorns in basketball and softball but finds time to cheer after her basketball games and during football season.
“I wanted to do something different,” said Miller as to how she became a cheerleader. Natalie Winters got me interested, and now here I am in my second year. I love cheering for my school. I have great teammates and wonderful coaches.”
She and Phipps drew a lot of praise from their head coach Michelle Walters.
“You couldn’t ask for a better group of girls that what we have,” said Walters. “They’ve worked very hard and a lot of time people don’t notice. Emmy is a good senior leader, and Bella steps up and does great as a captain. I’ glad to have both of them on the squad.”
The football cheerleading team is made up of Audry Godines, Paiten Carroll, Gracie Grayson, Madi Walker, Aleena Summerow, Kirsten Day, Emmy Miller, Hannah Walker, Bella Phipps, Jessie Anderson, Chloe Hopkins, Makenzie Poe, Audry Godines, Paiten Carroll, Gracie Grayson, Madi Walker, Aleena Summerow, Kirsten Day, Emmy Miller, Hannah Walker, Bella Phipps, and Jessie Anderson. Kayla Hensley assists Walters in working with the squad. Walters said that the most challenging thing as a coach this year has been trying to get prepared.
“We’ve always had our squad picked by the end of May but not this year plus we didn’t get to do the ECA camps or anything. We didn’t get the squad picked till near the end of summer. We’ve been limited as to what we can do because of COVID, so it’s been hard as a coach to teach them new cheers, and now we can’t stunt.”
Miller said if the team can make a playoff run that it would mean a lot to the girls that cheer.
“We all want to see our team do well, and I think they can,” said Miller. “Making a good run into the playoffs would mean a lot to us girls.”
Phipps touched on what’s just around the corner.
“It would mean a lot of if we could beat Hampton on Friday,” she said. “The fans really seem to get up for that game, so we’re going to cheer as hard as we can and hope our boys can get a win.”
“Our girls will give it their all,” said Coach Walters. “They always do regardless of who we play or where.”