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Girls get a shout out of cheerleading clinic

February 07, 2005|by BONNIE H. BRECHBILL

bonnieb@herald-mail.com

MONT ALTO, Pa. - Christina Green has been the captain of every cheerleading squad she's been on in her 12 years of cheering, and now she is passing along her knowledge and skills to younger girls.

A junior at Penn State Mont Alto, Green started a cheerleading clinic for area youngsters last year to help the college squad raise money to attend a competition, and it turned out to be "more fun than just raising money," she said Sunday afternoon at the second annual event.

Green, a captain last year, injured her knee and now coaches the college squad.

Under her direction, some of the younger participants in the clinic performed a routine to "Rockin' Robin" and worked on formations.

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"PSU Lions are the best," the older students chanted in the gym while performing various arm movements. One instructor encouraged them to use extreme facial expressions.

"The sillier you feel, the better you look," she said.

Gretchen Ebner, 12, of Hanover, Pa., who is in sixth grade at Annunciation Blessed Virgin Mary School in McSherrystown, Pa., said she was working on her "jumps, stunting and yelling. I want it to be really loud."

Carissa Lawrence, 13, an eighth-grader at the same school, has been cheering for five years and was working on her jumps and chants.

Deb Lawrence, cheering coach at Annunciation, brought 15 girls from two cheering squads.

"They're doing an excellent job with the kids," she said of the instructors.

Other activities in the clinic included learning cartwheels and roundoffs, coaching on holding each other aloft and other stunts.

Katie Mercer, 6, expertly backflipped the length of the mats. A member of Rage All Stars, a cheerleading squad from Waynesboro, Pa., Katie has been cheering for a year. One of her goals is to perform a back tuck, which is a back handspring with no hands, said her mother, Melissa Mercer. Eleven girls from Rage attended the clinic.

Several girls formed a circle and performed "toe touches," which does not involve bending over to stretch the legs. Rather, they leapt into the air and did splits while reaching out and touching the tips of her sneakers.

Green said she found the participants "amazing. I'm very impressed. Some of the stuff these 5-year-olds are doing I learned in high school, such as the tumbling. The skill levels have gone up," she said.

"Communities are getting all-star squads, and the girls are learning a lot differently. They're competing against other squads from all over the country," Green said.

Green started out cheering for the Waynesboro Stallion Midget team. Green, a business management major, said competitive cheering is different from a squad cheering for football games because it includes a lot of tumbling.

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