Loud and Proud

Senior Commits to Texas State Cheer

In+her+cheer+uniform%2C+senior+Kaitlyn+Armstrong+poses+for+her+senior+pictures.+According+to+Armstrong%2C+to+be+a+true+cheerleader+one+must+have+the+passion+and+willingness+to+adjust.%C2%A0+%E2%80%9CTo+me%2C+it%E2%80%99s+essential+to+be+dedicated%2C+self-motivated+and+flexible+to+be+a+cheerleader%2C%E2%80%9D+Armstrong+said.+%E2%80%9COf+course%2C+skills+are+important%2C+however%2C+since+our+schedule+sometimes+is+based+around+other+sports%2C+our+schedules+can+change+easily%2C+thus+flexibility.%22+

Photo Courtesy of Kaitlyn Armstrong

In her cheer uniform, senior Kaitlyn Armstrong poses for her senior pictures. According to Armstrong, to be a true cheerleader one must have the passion and willingness to adjust.  “To me, it’s essential to be dedicated, self-motivated and flexible to be a cheerleader,” Armstrong said. “Of course, skills are important, however, since our schedule sometimes is based around other sports, our schedules can change easily, thus flexibility.”

Estefani Rios, Editor-in-Chief

During sporting events, the cheer team hypes up the crowd with their perfectly timed stunts and synchronized chants. From their own State Spirit Championships in Fort Worth on Jan. 13 and 14, they loaded up their buses and cheered on the football team as they competed in the State Championship at AT&T Stadium on Jan. 15. It’s the life of a cheerleader- supporting others at all times.

“I really love supporting and celebrating all of Cedar Park teams and organizations,” senior cheer captain Kaitlyn Armstrong said. “Whether our teams win or lose, we are behind them. It’s really special feeling that we get to share these experiences with so many different teams.”

A member of the nationally recognized team, Armstrong began her career as cheerleader from the age of seven when her mother signed her up for Pop Warner. Three years later, she began cheering competitively at Cheer Athletics Austin. Over her journey as an All-Star cheerleader, she was part of the CoralCats, PlatinumCats and OnyxCats, the  Worlds team. 

“I enjoy so many different things about cheer,” Armstrong said. “I especially love all the energy and excitement during football season. I also really enjoy competing on the mat with my team. There is no better feeling than leaving the mat with my teammates after an amazing performance. But most importantly, I’ve enjoyed all the lifelong friendships I’ve made from both All-Star and high school cheer. We’ve shared so much over the years, highs and lows, on and off the mat and have so many memories.” 

Being a cheerleader is more than just glitter, pom-poms and a smile. According to Armstrong, to be a true cheerleader one must have the passion and willingness to adjust. 

“To me, it’s essential to be dedicated, self-motivated and flexible to be a cheerleader,” Armstrong said. “Of course, skills are important, however, since our schedule sometimes is based around other sports, our schedules can change easily, thus flexibility. Furthermore, our season never ends, so it’s easy to get burned out and you have to be self-motivated to stay focused and dedicated. There are many times while your friends are going out to events, movies, or trips, we have practice, camp, competitions or some other cheer event to attend.  It takes real dedication to choose cheer over social activities & its not an uncommon expression for cheerleaders to say ‘I can’t. I have cheer.’”

Additionally, being part of both a competitive and high school team requires rigorous skill training. Armstrong practices both with her teams and individually via private lessons and said that she has spent up to 40 hours a week at the gym preparing for competitions. 

“We train for high school cheer five days a week all year long,” Armstrong said. “We start in August and go through the first week of June for UCA Camp. During UIL season, we have after school practices and sometimes on Saturdays. [On the other hand,] there is no break in All-Star cheer. We have tryouts in May and Cheerleading Worlds competition is usually at the end of April, first week of May. Practice is two to four times a week with each practice around two  hours each.” 

Having participated in the sport for a decade, Armstrong has experienced both highs and lows. As a junior, she had jaw surgery that put her regular routine as a cheerleader at a standstill. 

“While recovering from jaw surgery,  I had to stop doing what I loved for several months altogether,” Armstrong said. “I also was limited on what I could do for several months after I was ‘cleared.’I pushed hard after I was cleared to regain any skills I lost & be ready for UIL and nationals.” 

While Armstrong enjoyed competing at Worlds with Cheer Athletics and becoming a 2021 NCA National Champion, she said the cheer team’s first State title in 2018 was the most memorable experience of her high school career. 

“Cedar Park cheer had never made the top 10, and we went into finals at 11th place,” Armstrong said. “At State, they only call top 10. By the time they got to the top five, we didn’t think we had placed in the top 10. Some girls were ready to just pack up, and honestly, we were excited we made finals this year as freshman. When they called us as the 5A DIV 1 State Champions, we were so excited. We were all crying and in complete shock. We had gone from 11th place to first. It was the best feeling and something I will never forget.” 

During her senior year, Armstrong caught the attention of both the Texas State University and Southern Methodist University cheer programs. After being recruited by Texas state and offered a position on the 2021-2022 All Girl Squad in January, Armstrong officially signed to Texas State Cheer in February. 

“I was blessed enough to be recruited and signed by Texas State, so my tryout process was different than most people trying out for a college cheer team,” Armstrong said. “I attended several clinics pre-COVID and filled out an interest form for the Texas State Cheer program. After they reviewed my skills, they invited me to attend a practice to watch & meet the team. When I received my offer to sign with Texas State, I was very excited & honored I was chosen.  Not only had I reached my goal to cheer in college, but Texas State was one of my top choices.” 

As she continues her education, Armstrong plans to major in psychology with a pre-dental track. When looking at colleges and plans for her future, Texas State’s Pre-Dental program was something that captured Armstrong’s attention. 

“[Texas State has] an excellent Pre-Dental program,” Armstrong said. “My career goal is to be an orthodontist.  I chose psychology to understand and help children & adults with their dental & orthodontic fears. I cannot wait to meet new friends, cheer at football games, and compete with Texas State Cheer at College Nationals.”