Smith, Ellis show JV the way

Published 6:43 am Tuesday, July 31, 2007

By By Matthew Nascone
Rachel Ellis and Katie Smith just can't get enough of Escambia Academy. The pair of graduated Lady Cougars were involved in many activities while at the Academy, including cheerleading, softball, basketball and volleyball, and they are coming back for more in the 2007-08 school year.
After many years of cheering at EA, Ellis and Smith will be the cheer sponsors for the EA JV cheerleading squad this year. And they have already led the squad to its first ever first-place finish at the Alabama Independent School Association Universal Cheerleaders Association camp at Huntingdon College in Montgomery July 16-19.
"I was nervous when they were competing at camp," Ellis said. "I was never nervous at camp as a cheerleader, but I was so nervous this year."
The JV squad won the Home Pom Competition. The amazing thing, according to Ellis, was that the squad had only two girls who had ever cheered before, captain Rachel Fuller and co-captain Niki Bryan.
And there was a slight sense of wishing they were still cheering for the pair.
"I really missed being out there competing until all the obnoxious cheerleading stuff happened at lunch," Smith said.
One might wonder how these two would go to college and sponsor the JV cheerleaders, but Ellis and Smith figured it out a long time ago. They are both attending Faulkner State Community College.
The opportunity to sponsor the JV squad came about last year during the 2006 basketball season. Ellis told her mother, Sonya Ellis, EA's varsity cheer sponsor, that she was interested in sponsoring the JV. Sonya moved the idea along and Ellis thought it would be a great idea to have Smith help as well.
So the pair of former cheerleaders are now leading the young cheerleaders at the Academy.
Both Ellis and Smith believe the age difference will be a good thing as the year rolls on.
"We thought the age difference we have with the girls would be a problem, but it has not been that big of a problem," Smith said. "They know that we are their friends, but they also know that when we say something they have to do it. And it is always great to have that kind of relationship. But it was not like that in the beginning. It was hard to get them to trust us, but now since we came back with the first place trophy they realize we know what we are talking about."
Ellis said the time at camp showed the JV squad that Ellis and Smith know their cheering.
"When we were at camp we would tell the girls 'You need to smile more and be sharper with everything you do,'" Ellis said. "And when the evaluations came back at the end of the week, all the things we were telling them to do were on that sheet. I think that is when they realized we know what we are saying because we have been here before. It really sank in then."
The dynamic duo of cheerleading for EA has a mission for this year.
"We want everyone to take JV cheerleading and football seriously," Smith said. "In the past not many people even knew that we do stuff outside of football games. We want to get the school community more involved in what we do and we are going to have more pep rallies for JV this year."
Ellis weighed in on the respect issue as well.
"We want people to look at our girls and say 'Hey those cheerleaders are good, let's go watch them,'" she said.
And the girls definitely have the support of the new headmaster at the Academy.
"Ms. Warren was out there Monday morning on her yellow scooter to see us off," Ellis said. "It was great to have her out there supporting us. And she called me Thursday afternoon while we were on the way back from camp and said 'Do you have anything to tell me.' And we were able to relay the good news of our win."
So two former cheerleaders from EA are now leading the younger generation of cheerleaders at the Academy. They have won one first-place trophy already and are looking forward to another year of cheering for the football team.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox