With both a serious tone and a sound of excitement, East Surry cheerleader Autumn Arnder summed up four years of hard work in her voice as she recalled the commitment and dedication required to be on her A-game in her continued pursuit to persevere in competition, share her passion for sports and build up others around her.
“As a senior, I have to be a motivator, a pusher with the team and cultivate younger ones on the team to go in our footsteps.”
She described a deep desire that is a part of her. It is a need to encourage and lead, and she has channeled a good deal of energy into the art and sport of cheerleading at East Surry High School.
“We as cheerleaders drive the school spirit,” said Arnder matter-of-factly. She said it was part of her job to lift up those around her and motivate everyone.
Arnder’s leadership qualities burst through at the seams as she emphatically shared her passion for sports and the importance of loving others around her. She said “confidence” is a key ingredient to cheering others on and an approach that she has found necessary to pursue her goals and passion.
Arnder said she learns from watching others and said she has learned from the University of Alabama cheerleaders by watching videos. She encouraged anyone wanting to get involved in “team spirit” and cheering to reach out to others and not be discouraged.
Arnder said Cheerleading Coach Bryan Hall has expected leadership character from the squad, and though strict in the fundamental areas of the sport of cheerleading, she said he truly cares about the cheerleaders. She said the squad stands out at East Surry because of Hall’s morals, support, commitment and passion.
“He has taught me so much, and both he and Monica have made it possible to have as many accomplishments as possible,” said Arnder. Monica Wilson is the assistant cheering coach at East Surry and has been a consistent comforting and motivating presence, she said.
Arnder said cheering as a sport requires dedication, strength, keeping mental focus and developing skills such as tumbling. Last year, Arnder’s cheerleading squad placed eighth in the national competition in Orlando, Fla. The American Association of Cheerleading Coaches and Administrators on AACCA.org describes cheering as an activity that has evolved over the past 20 years to claim more talented athletes in school because it involves “the strength of football, the grace of dance, and the agility of gymnastics.”
Arnder said there are months of work that goes into a two-minute or so routine and said it comes down to making the judges remember all the skills that she has worked so hard to cultivate.
“It is so great to get it done,” said Arnder. She said she worked at the challenge that the sport teaches her both on and off the field to live up to the image and be a great cheerleader. Fostering the Cardinal team spirit drives her, she said.
In the young student’s world so far, there have been several who have been the beneficiaries of her hospitality and motivating spirit. They have included the Cardinal student body around her, her friends, kids in need, and her mother’s business involving cosmetic sales. Arnder also is involved in modeling and was 2011 America’s Senior Miss.
For four years, Arnder has organized her own toy drive for needy kids during the Christmas season and worked with the Salvation Army in that endeavor. Arnder under the national title has taken a bullying prevention drive directly into the community by visiting schools and raising awareness.
Arnder said, “I am finding myself.” She said doing that is “a big thing” and advised to remain firm on ideals and standards.
“I know if I did not have my confidence, I would not have overcome.”
Reach Tanya Chilton at email@example.com or 719-1921.