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What had become a fierce competition in recent years instead turned into an uplifting experience for the three Wilson County varsity cheerleading squads Saturday at Hunt High.
With Nash County squads joining the mix, what had been the annual Wilson County Championships turned into the Wilson County Invitational. But instead of focusing on winning a trophy, the squads from Beddingfield, Fike and Hunt worked together to create a memorable unity cheer.
“We just wanted to figure out a way, because a lot of the cheerleanders are friends with one another, and we wanted to showcase unity,” said Beddingfield cheerleading assistant coach Stephanie Brone.
Brone said that she and head coach Jessica Applewhite conceived the idea of a unity cheer, in which all three Wilson varsity squads worked out a routine that incorporated each other’s favorites.
“We put a lot of cheers the three squads do and kind of came up with a medley of cheers,” Brone said.
Applewhite, a 2011 Beddingfield graduate, got the idea from Winston-Salem State, where she was a cheerleader. The Lady Rams varsity and junior varsity squads got together for a unity cheer.
And unity, said Brone, a former Hunt High cheerleader, is what has been needed on the Wilson cheerleading scene.
“It’s gotten really competitive at games with cheerleaders wanting to cheer against each other, so we wanted to kind of create more of a sharing environment,” Brone said.
Hunt coach Janet Pollock and Fike head coach Jordyn Howell were on board instantly.
Brone said she had trouble selling the idea of practicing with Fike and Hunt squads to her Lady Bruins at first.
“We had a practice and the girls were like, ‘Uh, do we really have to go?” Brone said with a laugh. “But then we had to pull them out of Hunt because they didn’t want to leave!”
The unity cheer proved to be popular well beyond the walls of the Hunt gym Saturday. Applewhite uploaded a video to her Facebook page Saturday evening and by Wednesday afternoon, Brone said, it had attracted more than 23,500 views.
“Everybody loved it,” Brone said. “We’ve even had a lot of responses from alumni. It’s definitely something we plan to do every single year.”
Southern Nash won the varsity competition at the Wilson County Invitational while Beddingfield placed second. Rocky Mount and Southern Nash were first and second, respectively, in the JV division while Elm City won the middle school competition and Rocky Mount Edwards was second.
At the recent 3-A Big East Conference championships, Northern Nash was first in varsity, followed by Hunt, Southern Nash, Rocky Mount, Fike and Nash Central. Rocky Mount was the JV champ, followed by Southern Nash, Hunt, Fike, Nash Central and Northern Nash.
Cheerleaders named to the All-Big East squad included Brittany Mitchell and Payton Gallaway of Fike; Alexis Bailey, Abria Blunt and Katilyn Kirby of Hunt and Cierra Jernigan, Kayleigh Denton and Kasie Webb of Southern Nash.
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