Two former Thomson High School cheerleaders are helping cheerleaders in Warrenton County reach new heights. Jacques Hamilton, from the THS class of 2003, and Tony Mims, from the THS class of 2005, combined their experience and knowledge of cheering to bring the Totally Jumping Cheer Camp to the girls at Warren County Middle High School.
Camp sponsor Tony Mims (right) watches students perform a move.
Photo by Lynn Davidson
"It was excellent. We learned everything you can think of about cheering," said Cedrica Bacon, 15.
"We learned stunts, cheers, dance moves, a lot we have done before, but they took us up to another level," said Tykesia Johnson, 13.
The girls said they have been cheering with the recreation department since they were in kindergarten, but have never been taught how to do stunts.
The Middle School coach, Raschondrius Burnett, echoed that fact.
Ms. Burnett said the school has not held a cheering camp in at least 10 years, because it was not financially possible. The things the girls knew were only what had been passed down to them from many years ago, she said.
"This week, we've made a big transition to them being an actual cheerleading team instead of a step dance team," Mr. Hamilton said.
In addition to cheering at THS, Mr. Hamilton and Mr. Mims attended cheering camps at the University of Georgia and were on the Haydens All-Star Cheering team. Mr. Hamilton also cheers for Paine College, where he is pursuing his degree in early childhood education.
Mr. Mims cheered for Alabama A&M University, and is transferring to Augusta State in the fall for his degree in secondary education.
The two instructors said they taught the campers many things they learned at camps themselves, but all of the dance moves were original.
"It exceeded my expectations," Tykesia said. "On the first day, when they showed us what we were going to learn, I thought there's no way I can ever do that. But then they taught us, and we did it."
Mr. Hamilton said the girls also learned the importance of discipline and team work during the camp. He said camp began at 8 a.m. every day. Those who arrived late had to run one lap for each minute they were late. He realized how well the girls were bonding when one girl arrived at 9:30 one morning because of a family emergency. Each of her team mates offered to run six laps for her so she wouldn't have to run all 90 alone.
Middle School Principal Truett Abbott said he takes pride in the cheerleading program, and was glad to have the camp.
"Extra curricular activities promote attendance, and attendance promotes academic achievement, so it helps all the way around," he said.
High School Principal Thomas McDonald said the members of the freshmen class last year with the top four grade point average were all cheerleaders, "so they work on academics just as much as their cheering."
At the end of camp, the girls performed a cheering extravaganza in the school gym for their parents and school staff members.
"They have learned so much and worked so hard, it's been an amazing week," Mr. Mims said.
Ms. Burnett said they hope to expand the camp with Totally Jumping next year into a week-long camp outside of the area where the girls will stay overnight.