Fan In The Stands: Rock Bridge Cheerleaders Flip Into Spotlight

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COLUMBIA - Whether the home team has just taken the lead or was just shut out, cheerleaders are always there. They are unwavering examples of school spirit. For instance, take the Rock Bridge High School cheer squad.

"We have a good Brew Crew this year, and they've been doing a really good job of cheering along with us, said senior cheer captain Maddie Davis. "They start some chants, and they follow along with us. So they're pretty good this year."

But rather than take a seat on the side, these girls deserve a share of the spotlight.

"I feel like this team has so much talent," said Elizabeth Flanagin, also a senior captain. "We have girls who are good at flying, girls who are good at basing, girls who are good at tumbling, and when we put that all together it just created a really good squad."

But they are more than good. The Bruin cheer squad won its first ever state championship on Oct. 1 at the Hearnes Center in Columbia.

Cheer coach Jessica Kendrick knows about success and failure, and the lessons and experience each one brings.

"I cheered at Macon and we were consecutive state champions when I was in high school," said Kendrick. "I have had wonderful teachers. I have had a lot of great experiences with failure, and I think that that helps as a coach to know how to win the next couple years."

The coach had only good things to say about her squad after the victory.

"I am so proud of my girls," said Kendrick. "Seeing them progress. Seeing kind of like the trials and tribulations we have through the year, and seeing them go and be successful. There's nothing better than watching your kids go out and get what they really want."

Despite knowing that the team had the potential to win, the outcome still surprised senior captain Sami Johnson.

"It was just like overwhelming, especially since it's my senior year and the fact that I was a captain. To help lead this team was just such a great victory," said Johnson.

So now, the roles are reversed. The cheerleaders are the ones getting cheered on and getting all the attention.

"Showing them what we can do, it just impresses them. Like when we won this year, we've gained so much respect from our school," said Johnson.

Davis agrees.

"Winning State has made people care this week. A lot of people have come up to us and our squad as a whole and they've like congratulated us. We have really felt like winning has helped us become respected," she said.

And don't count out the football team among those showing their support.

"The football team came out, and they were in great support of us," said Kendrick. "They made a nice little banner in the hallway for the cheerleaders."