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Golden Tiger cheerleaders host mini cheer clinic

Excited squeals filled the West Elementary gymnasium and precious smiles filled little faces as 118 girls from Pre-k through fifth grade completed a three-day mini cheer clinic and performed at Friday night’s game with the Russellville varsity cheerleaders.

“They had the best time, and the smiles that you see are absolutely genuine,” said head cheerleading coach Stephanie Mayfield.

The mini cheerleaders learned a cheer by grade level and a group dance, both of which they performed before Friday’s game on the football field with the varsity cheerleaders.

The varsity cheerleaders teach the clinic, with two cheerleaders per grade level. The girls learned basic cheer movements and were able to meet Russellville mascot, Champ, on the final day of the clinic.

“Our goal is to try to encourage young girls to see an interest in what our girls do,” Mayfield said. “We hope to instill a love for cheer and show them it’s a hard job but it’s a fun job.”

Mayfield said of the 18 girls on her varsity squad, all but two girls who transferred to Russellville participated in the clinic as children.

“I participated in it every year possible,” said co-captain Kaydee Holland.

Co-captain Destiny Hatton said she remembers her time participating in the mini cheer clinic and the memories she made with the older cheerleaders, several with whom she said she still has contact.

“It’s funny because we looked up to all of the big cheerleaders whenever we were little, but now we are big cheerleaders, so we know how the little kids feel,” Hatton said.

Holland said her favorite part about helping with the clinic is seeing the little girls’ faces when they perform and how excited they get to cheer.

“I know how attached I used to get to the older cheerleaders, so seeing them get attached to me now is just a really humbling experience, and it makes me want to cheer harder on Friday nights,” Holland said.

Russellville hosts the mini cheer clinic during football season and basketball season, and Mayfield said the cheer clinic is the biggest fundraiser of the year.

She said this year, funds from the clinic went to purchase a new suit for Champ and pay for regular cheer costs, such as paint for weekly spirit signs.