Mustang coach Caitlin Walker is in her sixth year as the head coach of the varsity cheer squad and this season she had 28 athletes with seven seniors on the team. But unlike other seasons, 2020 was unique in the way the team trained and prepared for competition.
“This season has been incredibly strange and stressful; it has required a lot of understanding and flexibility from everyone in our program. Our calendar changes weekly based on rescheduling events/games, and a lot of our fun team-bonding activities simply cannot take place,” said Walker.
Through it all the student-athletes that make up the team did whatever was asked and stayed prepared for any curveballs sent their way.
“I am the most proud of the resilience and dedication in my athletes. We are enduring a pandemic and all the changes to our normalcy that come with it, but we also had an ice storm that knocked out our power for the better part of a week,” said Walker. “We had virtual practices and even practiced outside when we could, we practice with masks on 100 percent of the time, and our school is on an A-B schedule. My athletes have battled through it all and shown up on days they don't even have in-person class in order to be their very best. Their tenacity has made me immensely proud this season.”
The squad had the opportunity to compete at the Game Day regionals and state competition this year and they are currently preparing for the regional cheer competition and state in January. They also plan to do Stunt competition after it was dropped when last year was cut short.
Through it all Walker has felt school activities are important to the student-athletes.
“It is important for students involved in extracurricular activities in general to compete with and be around other students. Students in everything from debate, to choir, to band, to theater, to track and field, to cheerleading should be allowed this opportunity as long as we can keep everyone safe. There is value in winning and losing, and the grace that should come with both, that young people need to experience first-hand,” said Walker.
There are many things that make a school like Mustang a great place for its students. Coach Walker said the vast number of opportunities is one of them.
“We have marketing, engineering, video game design, aviation classes and so much more. If there isn't a class for something in which students are interested, they can create a club for it. We have a class or a club for just about anything that may interest a young person today,” said Walker.
“Mustang also offers many pathways to success after graduation. We prepare students for college, we provide them with access to vocational-technical programs, we have an award-winning JROTC program for students interested in military service, and everything in between. Mustang is a special place for students because it is constantly evolving with them and their goals.”