LaFayette’s cheer program has seen an abundance of growth over the past year – Valley Times-News

LaFayette’s cheer program has experienced tremendous growth over the past year

Published Tuesday, June 4, 2024 at 11:08 am

LaFayette’s cheerleading program has gone from strength to strength over the past year, culminating over the weekend when the Bulldogs participated in the UCA cheer camp.

Melissa Carter is entering her second year as LaFayette’s cheerleading coach and the program has experienced tremendous growth over the past year. The UCA cheer camp was proof of that as the Bulldogs took home several individual awards, fourth place in camp dance, third in camp cheer, the superior improvement trophy and all superior evaluations.

The program was bare when Carter took over. Most of the girls didn’t know how to tumble or do the basics.

“I think we really reinforced a lot of the basic skills that I’ve been trying to practice at home,” Carter said. “Last year we went in as a team that could barely do anything. A lot of the staff remembered us and they admired the fact that we had improved as much as we had.”

“We could barely do stunts, and this year we did some pretty advanced stunts,” Carter added. “Last year we literally started from the ground up.”

Carter’s love for cheer began at an early age when she began competing as soon as she could walk. Carter later cheered at Chambers Academy and was coached by her sister during her senior year.

“It’s been in us all our lives,” Carter said. “I coached Pee Wee Cheer before I got to high school.”

Carter has worked for the past year to instill a love for the sport in LaFayette’s cheerleaders while teaching them the basics.

The training program for LaFayette has changed dramatically during Carter’s tenure. The Bulldogs began working on a summer training program immediately after tryouts concluded, with all new signings adjusting to the higher intensity.

“I’ve been trying to make sure they understand that there’s more to cheer than just putting on a uniform and being cute,” Carter said. “I try to make them understand that it is a sport and that they can participate if they take it seriously. I think they’ve kind of come to the realization that if they work hard enough, they’re good enough to compete.

Carter has faced numerous challenges during her first year and transition as LaFayette cheerleading coach, but she has also had help along the way.
The cheerleaders, Jeleah Carwell and Maurkenzia Brooks, have helped take the program to the next level. Madison Fuzzell was captain last year and retained the position until the following season. Fuzzell has acted as the leader of LaFayette’s squad.

“My captain did a great job,” Carter said. “She was my captain both years, so the girls obviously thought she had done well enough the year before. She’s done a good job of leading and pushing the girls, even though it’s basically brand new to her.

Several individuals stood out over the weekend, with LaJada McCullough being a UCA pin-it-forward receiver and being named an All-American for the second year in a row. Julian Roberts is a newcomer to the team that made a name for itself this weekend.

Still a rising sixth grader, Roberts won the Superior Mascot Trophy and the mascot jump-off. Carter had never coached a mascot before, but she saw Roberts come out of his shell at the UCA camp.

“When I was at Chambers, we didn’t even have a mascot, so the mascot is all new to me,” Carter said. “Our mascot is actually a rising sixth grader, and he did phenomenal.”

The success in the UCA camp has Carter ready to schedule more competitions later this year, hoping to win it all next time.

“I was just happy that we placed fairly,” Carter said. “Last year we were not placed at camp at all. I think we were the only team that walked away with nothing. I was very happy that we got a place, obviously we wanted to finish higher.”