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Cheers to Coed

Photo courtesy of Kama Alford

Photo courtesy of Kama Alford

Meredith Beasley, Sports Editor, The Hi-Times

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Cheerleading is probably one of the most underrated sports at Tupelo High School, even though it’s one of the most competitive teams on campus. Known most for their sideline entertainment, these cheerleaders – both girls and guys – also train to compete against other schools. In the past 10 years, they’ve been to nationals 10 times, placing as high as seventh back in 2014. What other sport can say that? This season has been another successful season for the Wave.

“We started off with a strong season,” said head coach Kama Alford, who has coached nine of the past 10 seasons.

The team was named  Grand Champions at the State Fair competition in Jackson back in October. Since then, the team has been to regionals in Southaven, where they secured a place in the nationals competition.

At each competition, each team performs a routine that is two and a half minutes long. The competition team, or the ones “on the mat,” consists of the entire team’s best cheerleaders, with extras on deck as alternates. The alternates are ready to compete in case of injury or sickness.

The team also competed in the state competition, but weren’t as successful as expected. A few mistakes, such as dropped stunts, kept Tupelo from securing that familiar first-place spot.

“We had a perfect warm up and then we took the floor and didn’t do as well as we had planned,” Alford said. “Sometimes in sports things just don’t go the way they’re planned, and it just didn’t that day. That day didn’t show our talent. We are more talented than that two minutes and 30 seconds.”

Alford said with state now in the past, the team is looking forward to nationals.

“We don’t plan for what happened at state to happen again,” she said. “We have an opportunity to redeem ourselves, so we are working hard to do that.”

Coed Cheer placed ninth in Nationals, which was held in Orlando, Florida, on Feb 6 and 7. The competition was at Disney World, and the team got a few days in the park to ride the rides, meet the characters and just have fun. The team always looks forward to this trip and the opportunity to compete against teams from around the country.

Tupelo’s cheer team is coed, but in the past there haven’t been many guys on the team. This year that changed. Eighteen boys tried out this year and 12 made it, and seven of those 12 are on the mat.

“Our guys, though not young in age, are young in the sport,” Alford said. “They’re all new to it and they’ve grown so much this year. I think that’s good for our school.”

This is senior Tripp Matthews’ first year on the team, and he has really enjoyed it. Matthews said that being a guy on the team has a lot less pressure.

“As a girl, there’s a lot of competition to see who gets on the mat,” Matthews said. “With guys it’s just laid back.”

THS cheer is a very important part of our student body and athletic program. The ones who are usually doing the cheering definitely deserve their own cheerleaders.

Coed Cheer members are Emily Anderson, Jaylin Baker, Zabian Blanchard, Satsha Burden, Kennedy Chapman, Farrah Cox, Elijah Daniel, Ashton Davis, Elizabeth Emmons, Donte Freeman, Christian Green, Madelyn Hammond, Karli Hill, Mary Grace Hudson, Mary King, Emma Leathers, Tripp Matthews, Brooke McAuley, Rachael McGhie, Lilla McGraw, Jasman Mitchell, Courtney Pugh, Mark Ray, Mckenzie Richardson, Samuel Russell, Reed Sanders, Leah Sevilla, Hannah Sheffield, Mary Caroline Underwood and Anna Kate Word.

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Cheers to Coed