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Showcase, Sports, Student Life

Athletes of the Month: Hannah Kadonski and Emily Watters

This month, not just one outstanding athlete could be chosen. Therefore, seniors Hannah Kadonski and Emily Waters were selected. They will be going to State for solo routines in cheer.

There were 60 entries from all over, and only 25 people qualified for state. To be considered, they had to send in videos of their performance the cheer and music portion to judges who determined whether we advanced to state or not. Both received state honors for the routines.

“I would sit in class, and start zoning out because I’m doing a run-through of the routine over and over in my head. I practice for hours while failing just to get back up and go again. Actually putting my solo to music and making up the whole thing myself was one of the most difficult parts,” stated Watters.

The girls put in so much work to perfect their routines by practicing to music, in front of a mirror and worked with their coach Mary Kast to get feedback on the routine 7 hours a week. They each spent time at home pretending to tumble and jump for their routines even outside of practice.

“Getting over the terror of being alone in front of hundreds of people knowing they are watching your every move. Not to mention keeping the solo separate from the current routine we are performing as a team is the most difficult part,”said Kadonski.

Being a leader on the team is a lot of responsibility, always having to be aware of how their actions are going to influence and benefit the team. Despite the responsibility, it is an honor to them being able to teach basics and watch the new members improve throughout the year. Although they are the oldest, the girls mentioned they are always learning new things through the younger cheerleaders.

Photograph courtesy of Jen Kadonski.

“When you want to act out or are having a bad day, you have to suck it up and show the team that even on the bad days you give it your all. We have to lead the team and stay calm ourselves so that the whole team has a little bit less pressure. At the same time it’s also our job to keep some pressure on the team to do well,” stated Watters.

Watters described why she does cheer saying she cannot go a week without it. It may be frustrating and a huge commitment but she loves it, and there is not anything else she would rather do. Not many people do cheer, and it is something she can stand up for and be proud of.

“I cheer because it’s the only sport I really enjoy and have excelled at. I enjoy the stunting and the tumbling especially, those are unique to cheerleading, and I love participating in something that’s different. My mom is my biggest supporter, she used to be my coach when I was little, and now that I’m in high school she comes to every game and competition I have, she hasn’t missed a single performance. Also, Emily keeps me from going crazy at practices and when I want to give up,” said Kadonski.

Both girls describe how they mentally prepare for a competition as they stated, “Listening to hype music while driving to the competition, making sure we are pumped and ready to compete. Having the team get together before performances to help each other get ready helps release the nerves. We also pray right before we go on the mat that really centers everyone.”

Watters and Kadonski getting ready for a competition. Photograph courtesy of Jen Kadonski.

People weigh a lot more than footballs or basketballs; therefore, it requires immense muscle, teamwork, coordination and focus on putting people up in the air and safely bringing them back down. Tumbling is also a huge factor as it takes time and energy to gain even the simple skills and they are dangerous. Both Watters and Kadonski agree that cheerleading is a super fun sport where one will be pushed to their limit while participating with a team they consider family.

Watters and Kadonski both described the future of cheerleading by stating, “We are inspirations to younger cheerleaders and younger athletes in general as we are examples of the possibilities that come as they grow. When they see us like that, it’s crazy because that’s how we saw high schoolers when we were young and to be in that position is so amazing. We are excited to know that we might have influenced one of them to continue pursuing cheer in the years to come.”