The Franklin High School Junior Varsity and Varsity Cheerleading teams just returned from Panama City Beach, Fla., after attending UCA (Universal Cheerleaders Association) Cheer Camp for the ninth time.
"This particular camp is an awesome experience for Franklin because they have the benefit of receiving instruction from the best veteran staff with UCA and have the opportunity to compete with some of the best teams across the country," said FHS Spirit Coordinator Jennifer Turner-Lynn. "This year, FHS was the only team from North Carolina, but were privileged to work with teams from Atlanta, Ga., Alabama, and Tennessee."
FHS senior squad leader Nina Astling has attended the cheer camp all four years of her high school career. "Camp this year was an incredible experience. This has been my fourth year going to camp and never have I felt closer to my 18 teammates," said Astling. "It's like we have become a true family. Our journey at camp really does help to prepare us physically and mentally for the rest of the season."
Turner-Lynn explained that the athletes who attend the camp learn skills and materials to use at games throughout the school year. The cheerleaders also compete in several divisions including home pom, home fight song, cheer, jumps, and dance. "This year, FHS took home a multitude of awards including the coveted Whale, a spirit award, the Overall Camp Traditions Award and upper level placements in Cheer, Overall Cheer, and Extreme," said Turner-Lynn.
In addition to learning materials to incorporate in routines throughout the year, the camp teaches the team responsibility and independence. "It brings out the true athletes in us since we are pushed to do our best all day, every day," said Astling. "It shows us the power of teamwork and how much we depend on each other for strength and support. Not only do we become stronger individually but we also become stronger as a team."
The camp gave FHS athletes a chance to compete for a spot on the UCA All-American team, an honor two of the FHS cheerleaders received. "Additionally, two of Franklin High School's cheerleader made All-American: Alyssa Burk and Morgan Henry," said Turner-Lynn. "They will now have the opportunity to travel to London or New York to work with cheerleaders from all over the U.S."
Senior cheerleader Henry is excited about being selected for the All-American team, but wants to keep her focus on the upcoming year at FHS. "Camp was great this year," said Henry. "We really bonded as a team and became a family. We accomplished many things this year. This was my fourth year at this camp and I honestly think this year was the best."
Approaching her last year cheering on the Panthers, Henry hopes to make it her best year yet. "As a senior, I'm really excited about this year and how our team can contribute to the program and help support the sports we cheer for," said said.
Astling hopes that with the creation of FHS' new Spirit Program, more students will become involved in after school activities and invest in the Panthers. "I'm looking forward to a lot this year since we have so many new programs appearing at Franklin High," she said. "The FHS spirit program has many new ideas in store. Between cheering for football, volleyball, and basketball.. everyone better be prepared for all the great surprises that are ahead. This year is the chance to show the community how hard we work and how enthused we are to represent FHS."