Contributor Chris Winiecki sat down with each of the ten finalists for the USASF Annual Scholarship to get the scoop on what the sports of Cheerleading and Dance has taught them and what they hope to pass along to other athletes.
Paxton Barber, Champion Cheer Heat, attending Texas Tech University
Platinum Scholarship Winner
Q: How did your coaches shape you into the person, not the athlete, that you are today?
A: Preaching character, commitment, and attitude. In everything you do. Character is always doing the right thing even if no one is watching. Commitment is if you start something you need to finish it all in. Attitude is you should always have a positive attitude, no matter what happens you need to keep going.
Brittany Powell, Dance Dynamics, attending Texas A&M University
Silver Scholarship Winner
Q: What is your favorite cheer or dance memory besides winning any event that you have competed in?
A: Worlds in 2015. The first year our team made it to Worlds. The energy at Worlds is just amazing. Although it is still a competition everyone wants everyone to do their best.
Madison Tarnowski, Michigan Storm, attending University of Michigan Ann Arbor
Q: As a role model in the cheerleading community, what is the one thing that you wish you knew at a younger age that you know now?
A: One of the most important things about being a cheerleader is confidence. No matter what you do, you should have confidence and believe in yourself.
Vivian Nguyen, Cheer Athletics Onyxcats, attending University of Florida
Q: What is the biggest life lesson that you have learned as a cheerleader? How do you plan to apply that to life outside of cheerleading?
A: Always be the best version of yourself. Be the best you for yourself and for those all around you. Your mistake can bring down everyone around you. Someone is always watching and you never know what version of yourself they are seeing. Make it the best version.
Ashley Cook, attending Clemson University
Q: What advice would you give to younger athletes?
A: Live out on the competition floor. If you are dancing or cheering and you are not having fun then why are you doing it?
Sydney Castillo, The Stingray All Stars Steel, attending University of Georgia
Q: What is the one thing that you wish you could change about the cheerleading industry? Why?
A: The way that the rest of the world views cheerleading. We should be recognized for all that we do. Most colleges don’t recognize cheerleaders as athletes and we need that to change.
Renee Glomski, Brookfield Dance Academy, attending University of Wisconsin or Louisiana State University
Q: How has cheer or dance shaped you into the person you are today?
A: It has changed my outlook on adversity. No matter what you need to be able to change your attitude and make it positive.
Bailey Lloyd, Top Gun Fierce Five, attending University of Tennessee
Q: What are you going to take from cheerleading after the awards are gone?
A: The Family. You always have someone there for you no matter what. Going to practice is just like going to your friend’s house and competitions are basically just vacations with your best friends.
Kendra Knight, Ohio Valley All Stars, attending West Virginia University – Parkersburg
Bronze Scholarship Winner
Q: If you were able to do your cheer career over again, would you do anything different?
A: I would work even harder pushing myself even harder. I would take in every moment and cherish it even more. Even the bad moments I wish I would have appreciated it all more.
Lexie Guyette, Energizers Dance, attendingCalifornia Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising
Gold Scholarship Winner
Q: What mark do you hope to have left on your program?
A: Everything that it takes to get to this level. I want the little kids who look up to me to see all the practices, the amount of late night homework and real commitment it takes. It takes more work than most people could ever realize.
The USASF Scholarship Fund was established in 2008 thanks to the help of their sponsors. This scholarship was designed to recognize and reward outstanding All Star Cheer and Dance Athletes by providing financial assistance to further their college education. This scholarship is open to any College bound senior that is a USASF Athlete Member and participates with any USASF member program. For more information or to apply for next year’s scholarship, please visit www.usasf.net/programs/scholarships