Mini-me Boonville cheerleaders performed with pink pom poms to songs set from the "Trolls" movie soundtrack alongside their high school counterparts during the boy's basketball game last Friday.
The seven members of the Boonville High School JV cheerleading squad, along with 13 members of the varsity squad, taught three dances to kindergarten through fifth graders the day before during their annual cheer clinic.
"They also decided to teach the girls a chant and a cheer that we currently do at our games," head cheer coach Emily Strahle said. "This way, the girls can cheer with us when they come to watch the Pioneers."
BHS varsity cheerleader Breilee Gates said she participated in the clinics when she was a youth herself.
"And I always looked up to the older cheerleaders," she said. "And they would always encourage us, even when we'd mess up."
Gates said the clinic also helps with the younger girls' confidence level.
"We teach them the routines," she said, "and they just go out there and kill it."
Strahle said the clinic is an opportunity for the high schoolers to be leaders for the younger girls.
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"From day one of cheer practice, I let our cheerleaders know the importance of being role models to the younger girls," she said. "The cheer clinic allows the younger girls to meet some of their role models, spend time with them and then perform with them at a game. I think our high school girls enjoy it just as much as the younger girls do."
The clinic is also a nice distraction for the high school cheerleaders, who Strahle said spend so much time working hard on game plans and EXPO routines.
"And the clinic allows them to focus on doing something for others -- it is a great change of pace," she said. "I compliment the girls often not only on the cheering they do on the court, but on the differences I see them making daily off the court. The clinic is a great example of taking the time to make a difference."
Strahle said she also believes the clinic teaches the high schoolers some important lessons.
"I think our girls learn some planning and organizing skills as we prep for the clinic," she said. "They use their creativity as they plan the dances and cheers, and then they get to apply their leadership skills at the actual clinic."
BHS varsity cheerleader Alia Duncan said she loves watching so many younger girls have such a great passion for the sport.
"It gives me goosebumps just because it's crazy how much they want to try," she said. "And just hanging out with them, dancing, cheering and chanting with them is so much fun."
The connections between the two generations of cheerleaders is one of Strahle's favorite things about the clinic.
"The younger girls come in timid and unsure about the event," she said, "and then by the time they leave, they have made a friend for life with our high school cheerleaders."
Her second favorite part is seeing the high school girls develop their own leadership skills.
"[...] as they facilitate their small groups at the clinic," Strahle said. "We have some great leaders on our squad and it is fun to see them not only leading cheers, but leading their peers and mentoring future pioneers."
As for the future Pioneer cheerleaders themselves? They don't necessarily have to wait until high school or the next cheer clinic to practice their new moves.
"There is not a game that goes by that I don't see the younger girls including my own daughter watching every move of our cheerleaders," Strahle said. "There is just something magical about it."