The Bullard Panther varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads recently returned from the Universal Cheerleaders Association camp, held Monday through Thursday, June 12-15 on the campus of Texas A&M University – College Station, bringing back a number of individual and team awards.
“It was amazing to be able to take these two squads to camp this year,’ said Jennifer Smith, BHS varsity cheer sponsor. “ The girls definitely bonded as an organization through this experience. It was also great that our new JV cheer sponsor, Kim Connelly was able to join us and meet the girls and experience camp with us. The girls bonded, worked together as a team, and also successfully competed on the last day.”
During the UCA camp, the Bullard cheerleaders were able to learn about several aspects of cheering on a high school squad, including stunts, routines, and even safety procedures.
“The girls learned new offensive and defensive chants, a game-day cheer choreographed with stunts, hip hop routine, band dances, and an extreme routine choreographed with a stunt pyramid,” said Smith. “They also prepared for what to expect on game-day, including when to call offense vs. defense chants, when it's appropriate to call crowd interactive cheers, game-day traditions, and ideas for pep rallies. They also had a lot of team bonding opportunities. The mascots learned the mascot walk, how to perform for a crowd, mascot rules and how to stay safe in the suit.”
Several members of the Panther varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads participated in tryouts in order to earn the status of All-American Cheerleader while attending the camp.
According to Smith, the All-American tryout requirements consisted of cheerleaders performing a cheer and an Extreme dance they learned during the first two days of camp, as well as performing their best jump. From there, the camp’s judges take the top scoring cheerleaders and recognize them as All-Americans.
Mascots trying out for All-America must make up their own skit, cut their own music, and incorporate at least five props. The judges then select the top scorers as All-Americans.
A total of seven Panther varsity cheerleaders were presented with the honor of All-American Cheerleader after the tryouts, including Perry Burchfield (mascot), Abbie Denman (captain), Baleigh Ford, Lindy Martin, Molly Martin, Riley Randall, and Shelbee Walker.
Other Panther varsity cheerleaders recognized as All-American nominees at the camp included Megan Daugherty and Mackenzie Pyle.
Additionally, Burchfield and Ford were selected as Pin It Forward recipients, which are selected based on possessing the attributes of an all-around model cheerleader.
According to Smith, the UCA camp staff selects on the second night of camp a cheerleader or mascot who is helpful, positive, helpful to her squad and others, and truly embodies what a cheerleader should be. Those selected are given two pins, one to keep, the other to "Pin-It Forward" to a cheerleader or mascot who she notices exhibiting those same traits the following night.
“The Pin It Forward award is truly one of the most prestigious awards given at camp, since they are chosen because they have shown these positive traits to the staff and the cheerleaders from the other squads,” said Smith.
The Panther junior varsity cheer squad also had its share of members vying for the All-American Cheerleader recognition, including All-American Cheerleader Macie Turrentine, as well as All-American nominees Jacelyn Cowart, Keely Linebaugh, Kallie Priestner, and Courtney White.
The Bullard Junior varsity cheerleaders also competed well at the camp as a unit, taking home the Best Home Dance Choreography award.
“We are extremely proud of all of these young ladies who were recognized and who had enough spirit to try for All-American,” said Smith. “I am thrilled that we brought home so many team awards as well. It's so awesome that we won Best Home Dance Choreography for JV because our home dance was choreographed by Bullard alum and Dallas Cowboys Rhythm and Blues Dancer, Donald Love. Every person on the squad worked hard to earn these awards.”
Smith said with the awards rolling in for the Bullard Panther varsity and junior varsity cheerleading squads already, as well as the backing of strong parental support and of the community, the squad is ready to cheer for all Panther athletic teams.
“I am beyond excited for next year with this group of young ladies,” said Smith. “They are talented, dedicated, and love to cheer. We also have an amazingly dedicated group of cheer parents to support the squads. We’re looking forward to being seen bringing spirit to the community and we hope to inspire the fans to cheer for our beloved Panthers.”