Between school work and time with friends, senior Mahalia Taylor has spent the last seven years cheering at PHS. Taylor has cheered since she was in elementary school. Her eighth grade year, Taylor joined cheer as a base. Taylor’s freshman year at PHS, she was added to the varsity squad.
“I started because of one of my brother’s friends, Ashley Toliver, who, at the time, was a high school cheerleader. I just really looked up to her, and she made cheering look really fun,” said Taylor.
Now, Taylor has turned to her squad for inspiration. Sophomore Libby Padgett, who Taylor has cheered with since Padgett began, encourages Taylor to be the best.
“Libby Padgett inspires me a lot. We grew up together, and I have seen her grow and become who she is as a cheerleader, and it’s really amazing. I’m really proud of her,” said Taylor.
For Taylor, the only downside of cheer is the frustration that comes with practicing stunts.
“Sometimes stunts just don’t hit, but we always work together and figure it out,” said Taylor.
Of every stunt, Taylor’s favorite is one she learned while at a Universal Cheerleaders Association, or UCA, camp. Every year, the cheer team heads to Indiana University for three days and are taught dances, chants and cheers by UCA cheerleaders.
“We’ve learned so many good stunts over the years, but my favorite one is definitely a handstand stunt we were taught at camp my junior year,” said Taylor.
As for games, Taylor’s most memorable match-ups were always the most anticipated by the Ram fans as well.
“I’ll always remember the Orange Bowls and games against Orleans. Those are some of the most popular games,” said Taylor.
The cheers and chants aside, Taylor is thankful for her squad and the memories she has made. Taylor believes some of the best parts of cheer have been watching her team grow and develop since she first joined.
“I’ll miss everything about cheering. When you work with certain people like I have in cheer, you create a bond with them, and you create a love for what you do,” said Taylor. “Cheerleading has given me many new friendships and taught me many new lessons over the years, and I am so very grateful for all it has done for me.”
After high school, Taylor does not plan on continuing her career as a cheerleader. Taylor plans to attend college with a major in graphic design, but has not decided what school.
“Honestly, for me, cheering in high school is all I want,” said Taylor. “I have really enjoyed cheering on the varsity squad since my freshman year. It has really helped me become who I am.”
Story by Rebekah Reeves