A local Waller Mill Elementary School 4th grader of Williamsburg has made her way to perform on the Worlds stage this year. Taylor-Kate is your normal smiley, friendly 10 year old honor roll student who is an exceptionally hard working student-athlete, who one day decided to try something new. Taylor-Kate who had been an avid swimmer for a local Williamsburg swim club for many years asked her parents permission to attempt a "landsport". Initially her parents assumed soccer, softball, volleyball, field hockey or even LAX. However, when she told her parents she wanted to try cheerleading, they were surprised and thrilled, yet naturally curious what had prompted the sudden change of heart. Both of her parents were athletes as children and were thrilled with her progress as an up and coming swimmer, yet figured that "TK" had already had a plan in mind. They say she's an eager "planner" and therefore a change was likely upon them. Earlier in the year, Taylor-Kate had seen a video of pre-recorded cheer competition and from that moment had wondered what it would be like to attempt these high level acrobatics, dance and tumbling combinations. Taylor-Kate and her family took time together to explore what all-star cheer was all about by reaching out to speak with friends, family, and consulted with various gyms in and around Hampton Roads. They narrowed their search down to a Richmond organization called, Cheer Extreme. This organization seem to offer a consistent, safe and proven success record at each skill level of All-Star Cheer. Cheer Extreme Richmond had also successfully coached each skill level and team and had recently been represented Nationally and Internationally, led by an all around coaching staff and gym owner. These statistics were particularly important as part of her parents homework, and with Taylor-Kate no longer between the swim lanes, safety on the mat was their #1 priority. Just after one season with her new organization, Taylor-Kate has mastered her level 1 skills while working a full competition season. Later in the year and after an almost flawless and undefeated season, she and her team received an invitation to perform at the largest CheerSport competition in the world, located at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Disney World. This invitation is only extended to the best teams in the world; when asked about her new experience and how she was able to balance her academic priorities along with her practice schedule, Taylor-Kate had this to say; "Well, I wanted to try something new and when I saw the video and the girls working together like they did, I knew I wanted to be apart of it. You have to have a lot of trust in your teammates to get to where you want to go as a team. It was really confusing in the beginning but I knew I really wanted to learn everything that I could about each position so I could be the best teammate. I also learned that studying while on the road was the way to go because staying on the honor roll and being a good student is really important to me. My teachers are very encouraging and so supportive, I have an amazing school! Going to Summit/Worlds with my team was really amazing! It was a lot to take in and it was very busy. There's a lot to do and I kept calling it my business trip since we were all there to work. I have to say that my season was a lot of fun, I made a lot of great memories and I have really awesome coaches too. Oh and did you know you can win college scholarships in my sport? I can't wait until next season, its going to be awesome! "
If this first year is any indication of a promising career for this young athlete, she will certainly go the distance. Taylor-Kate also recently received an award during the gyms year-end banquet, The 'Extreme Athlete Award'. This award is given to the athlete who is nominated by her peers, coaching staff and gym owners. In years past there were always debates regarding whether cheerleading was a sport or an activity. The International Olympic Committee's executive board voted recently to recognize cheerleading as a sport, the New York Times reports and in 2016 The Olympics Made It Official, Cheerleading Is a Sport!
Best of luck to Taylor-Kate and congratulations to you and your teams on a terrific athletic season of All Star Cheerleading!
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