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Girls let out a cheer for Penn State cheerleading clinic

February 19, 2007|by KATE S. ALEXANDER

MONT ALTO, Pa. - The voices of 50 young cheerleaders resonated Sunday against the concrete gymnasium walls of Penn State Mont Alto's Multipurpose Activities Center.

"B-A-S-K-E-T, Lions Basket!" the girls cheered.

For the last four years, the Mont Alto cheerleading squad has welcomed young cheerleaders to campus each winter for a one-day clinic.

Designed by Penn State Mont Alto Cheerleading coach Christina Yoder as an annual fundraiser, the clinic trains cheerleaders ages 4 to 18 in cheers, dances and stunts.

"I started the clinic when I was captain of the team," Yoder said. "We needed new uniforms and there was no money, so we did the clinic as a fundraiser."

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Yoder said the team chose to continue the clinic because of its success and the number of girls who come back each year.

About 50 girls attended the clinic Sunday, many of them repeat attendees, Yoder said.

"I have come since it started," said 7-year-old Gabriella Howard of Cascade. "It makes you a better cheerleader."

Yoder said the clinic divides the girls into two groups based on age and skill level. Once divided, the girls were taught one cheer, one sideline cheer, a dance and stunts.

"Stunts are basket tosses, flying, those kinds of things," Yoder said. "We actually had to start teaching harder stuff because a bunch of these girls are already competing."

Parents and family were welcome to sit and watch the three-hour clinic and were encouraged to view the final performance.

"The groups do everything they have learned for their family," Yoder said.

In addition to providing skills training for young cheerleaders, Yoder said the participants received awards for being the most spirited, the best all-around and the best in jumping and tumbling.

With many repeat attendees, Yoder said her squad creates all new cheers and routines each year.

Sisters Sydnee and Samantha Loy were new to the clinic, and said they wanted to return next year.

"I am going to go home and practice," said Samantha, 8. Daughters of alumnus and former cheerleader Bobbi Loy of Abbottstown, Pa., Sydnee and Samantha aspire to be Penn State cheerleaders.

"I want to cheer here," said Sydnee, 5.

Yoder said the clinic raised about $1,000 and will help the team afford new uniforms, warm-ups and shoes, and help fund their annual competition.

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