Bradwell Institute senior cheerleader Christia Thomas recently was named by the United Cheer Association to the All-American squad. She will represent Liberty County at the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and a will make special trip to London for the New Year.
According to BI cheerleading coach Lisa Jackson-Chaney, four BI cheerleaders were nominated for the chance to try out for the All-American team, but Thomas was the only one selected.
“It’s a very big deal,” Chaney said. “We’ve had girls that came up and said they wanted to try out, but that is not how it works. You have to be nominated and once you are nominated, then you tryout. This year, I had 29 participants and out of the 29 participants, there were only four that I felt were prepared and could give it a good shot.”
Tiger cheerleaders Tennille Hamilton, Haley Richardson, Anasa Wilson and Thomas were nominated and placed into groups with other cheerleaders from around the Southeast. They had two days to learn new routines for the tryout.
The girls admit the experience had them on edge.
“It is nerve-wracking,” said Hamilton, who now has been nominated for tryouts twice. “You go up and you cheer in front of all the cheerleaders, and you give your best performance, and it’s very nerve-wracking. But once you get up there, you kind of forget about all that.”
“This was my first year trying out, and I was really nervous,” Richardson said. “I didn’t know what to do with myself. You go in front of all the cheerleading teams, and you are in the spotlight. And you have to make sure you are smiling and energetic and enthusiastic the whole time. What makes it so nerve-wracking is that UCA instructors are the judges and these are professional cheerleaders, so you feel like you have to be perfect because, in our eyes, they are perfect.”
“I was more shocked by the fact that the coach nominated me to try out,” Wilson added.
Thomas said she was nervous last year when she was nominated as a junior.
“This year, I was very confident,” Thomas said. “I just knew that I had it and that I was going to make it. When I heard that I was selected, I got so excited because it is my senior year, and I just wanted to be a part of it.”
Chaney said it is the first time in her eight years of coaching that a cheerleader from Liberty County will travel with the All-American team. Thomas said she has never been to New York or anywhere overseas.
“I’m a little scared,” she said. “I’m scared of airplanes.”
Chaney and the cheerleaders will seek donations to make Thomas’ trips possible.
“We need to make it possible for her to go,” Chaney said. “We have taken it upon ourselves because it is quite expensive, and it is an honor, and we want to do whatever we can to help her get there. So we will be knocking on doors of businesses and letting people know that she is representing Liberty County.”
Many people don’t consider cheerleading a sport, Chaney said, but it takes hours of training and conditioning to perform the jumps, lifts and tumbles that they do.
“We tend to be overlooked,” Chaney said. “But I was extremely proud of them. I wanted to come back and quickly tell everybody in Liberty County about our cheerleaders and how good they are. They tried out for All-American and, hey, one of them was chosen.”
Thomas said she is eager to represent her community.
“I’m looking forward to being an All-American and being the leader that I was selected to be,” Thomas said. “ I just look forward to showing kids younger than me that anything is possible.”
To donate, make checks payable to Bradwell Institute. In the memo field, write “All-American Donation,” and mail checks to:
100 Pafford St.
Hinesville, GA 31313