The Tuscola varsity and junior varsity cheerleading teams have gotten a jump on the 2019 season. The teams spent time at a cheer camp at Clemson, which concluded with a pair of competitions. The varsity team won both, with JV placing second.

The camp allowed the Mountaineers to get in some critical stunt work ahead of the season.

“It is beneficial from the safety aspect because a big part of cheerleading now is stunting,” head coach Tammy Bates said. “Being trained to stunt properly to avoid injury is very important to me as a coach. I think to them it’s motivating because they’re getting back into cheerleading. They’re learning some new cheers and dances. So it’s really a nice, upbeat, positive way to start the season.”

Following a season that saw Tuscola place third at the NCHSAA cheerleading invitational in Raleigh, Bates wants to see her team participate in more competitions and win more competitions, along with the continued growth of a larger JV team to prepare young cheerleaders for varsity.

Bates will have plenty of leadership to help accomplish those goals, as this year’s team returns a whopping 12 seniors, led by captains Jessica Bates and Gabby Hightower.

“We depend on all our seniors to be leaders,” Bates said. “Not just for varsity but also on helping JV with their cheers, with their competition routine and with their stunting as well.”

While the team wants to represent the school well in competitions, its priority is spreading school spirit on the sidelines for all of Tuscola’s teams.

Cheerleading is a unique sport in that, in addition to their own competitions, the team members also play a role in helping other teams win by providing energy and spirit to their games.

Bates knows the importance of an organized schedule for what can be some rigorous time periods. Last year, when Tuscola football played into late November, basketball had started and the Mountaineers were preparing for their state competition on Dec. 1.

“ I don’t think people realize how much time and effort cheerleaders do put in to doing all of it, and it can be hard and stressful for them,” Bates said. “But they know that going into it, so we prepare as best we can.”

Tuscola cheer will have an important task right out of the gate, as football’s home opener is the big rivalry game against Pisgah on Friday, Sept. 6.

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