By Miranda Lutz
Name: Michelle McCourt, 17
School: Carondelet High School
Accomplishment: Cheer captain
For those of you who think cheerleading isn't a sport, think again. "Cheerleading is actually the most dangerous female sport and is sometimes considered to be more dangerous than football, " Michelle says.
She would know: She has cheered for 10 years. She began cheering with Clayton Valley Falcons and is the captain of Carondelet's varsity cheerleading team. Michelle made the varsity team as a freshman and went on to help her team win JAMZ nationals in her sophomore year for the first time in school history. She also cheered for Pyramids All-Star team, which won nationals multiple times.
About the Sport: Michelle says, "It takes a huge physical toll on your body and with lifting girls like we do, the rate of danger definitely goes up. There's no padding and the mats are not as soft as they look, so it's hard to cushion the blow of the floor or someone's elbow flying full force at your face."
Cheerleading is a challenging sport because every move has to be exact and you must rely on muscle memory to get a routine down. Michelle says her favorite part about cheering is the adrenaline rush she gets when walking onto the competition floor.
"While you're waiting backstage you are a jumble of nerves. From the minute you step foot onto the mats, adrenaline kicks in and helps me perform as best as I possibly can for the 2 minutes and 30 seconds."
A large component of cheering is not only learning new moves and skills, but learning how to perform. Michelle says she doesn't get worried about performing in front of a lot of people but stresses over getting everything perfect. She says she enjoys learning new tumbling skills and stunts.
Michelle says she fell in love with cheering during her days as a Falcon cheerleader and that the sport will continue to be a part of her life.