Three Carthage Tigers cheerleaders represented their squads, their town and their state on Thanksgiving this year.
Emily Comer, seventh grader, Kayden Baucom, CHS freshman, and Alexis Ortiz, CHS freshman, were three of more than 500 elementary, junior and high school cheerleaders and dancers from across the nation who performed in the 2012 UCA / UDA Thanksgiving Tour at the Walt Disney World Resort. The young ladies were invited to perform in the Thanksgiving Day Parade as selected All-Americans during the Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) and Universal Dance Association (UDA) summer camps in June.
All-Americans are chosen by tryouts based on either superior cheerleading or dance skills. Only the top 12 percent of the performers from UCA or UDA camps earn the chance to march in a holiday parade of this caliber, but the Carthage girls were all smiles with the other 380 performers in the parade as an estimated 30,000 spectators enjoyed the show.
“We were really nervous at first but then we just got out there and did it,” Baucom said with a smile.
As the girls reminisced on the experience, a humble pride came over them.
“It feels really good actually,” Baucom said. “I hope to continue cheerleading at the college level and eventually coach.”
With every student-athlete’s accomplishment comes a pride from the parents as well.
“I cried,” said Jill Baucom, remembering when her daughter and friends were named All-Americans. “It was definitely a proud moment just to see her dedication and hard work help her become the best she could be.”
To see the girls in action, they cheerlead for football and basketball games. Comer said the sport means an awful lot to her.
“It's everything,” Comer said, grinning. “It's my life.”
For other young ladies in the community with dreams, the Carthage All-Americans had some advice.
“Try to follow your heart,” Baucom said. “Work hard and do your best.”
Comer agreed, adding, “if someone tells you that you can't, just keep working toward it.”
Ashlynne Cook, eighth grader, and CHS sophomore Maura Dodd were unable to attend the event at Walt Disney World, but also earned the All-American honor.