History was made at Copperas Cove High School this week when five members of the cheerleading team signed letters of intent with five different colleges and universities.
Karagan Mayberry is headed to UT-El Paso. Chandler Diaz signed with Tarleton University. Lexi Frazey becomes a Longhorn at UT-Austin. The only male on the CCHS cheer team, Caleb Hunter, will cheer for Blinn Junior College, and Abigail McPhail will stay closer to home, cheering at UMHB. This is the first time that CCHS students have signed athletic letters of intent for cheerleading, said Coach Kim Eason.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Eason, who had a cheerleader sign a letter of intent when she coached at a North Carolina high school. “This group of girls and guys I started with when they were freshmen. And it’s amazing now to see them go on to the college level. Texas is more competitive. We went to multiple competitions over the last four years all over the state of Texas.
“Sometimes I don’t think people understand what we do. It’s non-stop between football and baseball games, and it’s not just what they do at the high school level. Many of them also compete with another squad in the community. We have really built up this program and instilled standards of excellence for future years.”
Fittingly enough, the seniors on the cheer team selected the motto “leaving a legacy” back in July with the remaining members of the team choosing the motto “following their legacy.” All 19 members of the CCHS cheer squad were named All-American cheerleaders, an honor bestowed on less than 10 percent of cheerleaders by the National Cheerleading Association.
“Signing was absolutely amazing,” Cheerleader Karagan Mayberry said. “(Cheer) is still not under athletics, but it is still great to have the support of others in the school.”
Mayberry, who spends 15-20 hours a week in cheer practices, games and competitions, said the cheerleaders were told earlier this week that they would not be able to sign with other athletes in the official ceremony because the sport does not fall under the athletic director.
“Cheerleaders are not considered athletes in our high school, but we fall under the athletic rules,” Mayberry said. “A college signing is a college event, and in all of our colleges, we are considered athletes.”
“After speaking with the head of the athletics department, debating with our principal and gaining support from our student body, (it was) agreed for our sport to be recognized alongside the basketball and baseball players. Our principal does not agree with the decision. He still finds it unfair to other clubs and activities that receive regular scholarships even though they are not considered athletes at the college level.”
Mayberry added that two years ago, a bowler signed a letter of intent in a ceremony with football players despite the fact that the bowling team is a school club and does not fall under any athletic rules.
Eason said cheer squad members began asking if they could participate in a ceremonial signing event if they made college teams.
“It was put to me that we could have our own signing after school,” she said. “But three squad members went to the principal and then Coach Jack Welch who supported it. Cheerleading and football go hand in hand, and we have always been there for the players. It is just a collaboration to help out the teams and the student body.”
For future CCHS cheerleaders who receive college cheer scholarships, the way has been paved for them to be accepted as athletes in their respective field.
“This is the first time CCHS cheerleaders ever signed into college cheer programs,” Mayberry said. “We are proud to make history. Hopefully, a lot more cheerleaders can sign after us and be considered athletes.”