CHHS cheerleader tradition
continues with veteran squad
By STEVEN G. WATSON
How much pressure can be put on a high school student? Just ask any of the members of the Charles Henderson High School Cheerleading squad as they prepare to make yet another trip to Nationals at the end of the month.
After bringing home the State Championship in division 5A, CHHS will now try to add to their already outstanding reputation as a cheerleading powerhouse, going to Nashville and competing for their fifth national championship in the ’90’s. That kind of reputation doesn’t come without a price however.
As coach Michelle Armstrong will tell any who asks, just because excellence is expected of her girls, actually achieving that excellence is no piece of cake.
"I think as far as here in Troy goes, they’re expected to win," Armstrong said. "That’s a good expectation to have, but you have different girls every year. That puts a lot of pressure on these girls and that doesn’t include the pressure of them doing the stunts or anything else."
"There is a lot of pressure on us because we do have high expectations," captain Jennifer Hall said. "We just practice as hard as we can and go out there and show what we have when we have to."
"The tradition is just from having four national championship squads over the last 10 years," fellow captain Lauren Stone said. "That’s where the tradition comes from. It’s just a lot of hard work so we try to carry it out every year. We do thrive on it. We peak through our pressure. I think the main pressure probably comes more from each other just to try to do our best rather than squads from the past."
The girls can be found practicing around 3 hours a day, six days a week and the dedication they show is profound. Each member must be ready to complete a harsh regiment of exercise and stunt training. Watching their show and how much it takes out of them is an easy way to see how much this means to these nine ladies.
"If you’re not dedicated it won’t work out on this squad," Armstrong said. "It takes giving up vacation, friends, boyfriends, trips, I mean it takes giving up all of that to do this. A lot of people don’t realize that."
All that for one a national championship. The girls are close on most all accounts. They spend so much time together they are a lot like sisters instead of simply classmates. Something the group says is important for their success.
Armstrong says the experience of this squad, eight of which were on the winning team from last year, will be a huge asset to how far they will go.
"To have that much experience you don’t have a lot of the little things to worry about," Armstrong said. "They know where to go, they know what to do, they know what I expect and they know how to handle the pressure. Now, with this much experience and talent it’s just a matter of putting it all together. We don’t have to worry about the fundamentals because they’ve already got that.
"Still, when we get to Nationals we have the pressure of having already won," she continued. "We’re back and everybody is out to beat us."