By Anna-Grace Shields
“Players Only” is a special column written by Harding athletes. In this week’s issue: junior Anna-Grace Shields talks about being one of three future co- captain of the Harding cheer squad.
My name is Anna-Grace Shields. I am a junior and recently I was chosen to serve as one of three cheer captains for the 2019-20 Harding cheer squad. I am excited to share this position with juniors Rachel Frost and Jasie Mason.
I have been a cheerleader for as long as I can remember. Faint are the days before big bows, bright lip stick and hair spray became my comfort zone. When I began cheering at Harding, the sport changed for me. Being a cheerleader was no longer about holding some arbitrary title, standing in front of my whole school or competing for national titles.
Being a cheerleader was acknowledging the little girls staring at you in awe. It was riding hours and hours on a bus to be at a football game right before finals. It was practicing dances and chants on my own time so we could spend our time at practice working on stunts.
Most importantly, it was being a part of a group of women whom I truly admired. Deciding to try out for cheer at Harding was a no-brainer. My cousin Sarah Jane Shields Bedwell cheered here and my brother was on the football team and about to play his final season. That season was so much fun. They had an undefeated season and even hosted Harding’s first playoff game.
I will always treasure the time I got to spend on the field with my brother and will never forget the fact that he got a shiny GAC championship ring and a seat on a plane to the playoff game while I got a T-shirt and a seat on the bus.
Being named one of the captains for this season is a huge honor. Starting on my first day as a Harding cheerleader, I was shown a level of respect from my teammates that was foreign to me. The older girls valued my knowledge and wanted to help me improve anyway they could.
As one of the captains, I will work to make each member of the team feel this same respect, in hopes that they will, in turn, show it to girls farther down the line. Mrs. Kellee Blickenstaff has put in a lot of work to build a program with high standards and skilled cheerleaders. I am so thankful to be a part of this tradition.
I believe being a representative of Harding is an honor. My goal is to help maintain a level of excellence, make proud those that cheered before us and help the younger girls understand how important it is that we continue down the path laid before us. I’m excited to see what this year has in store for Harding sports.