MARIETTA - A sea of pigtails and pink hair bows stole the show as the annual pee-wee cheerleading night took over Marietta High School's Friday football game, which coincided with breast cancer awareness night.
"Hey, mom. I'm a cheerleader," yelled 6-year-old Graci Goss to her mother from the sidelines.
Decked out with pink streaks in her hair, Goss was raring to go for her big Friday debut.
Photo by Jasmine Rogers
Bailey Saliba, left, and other cheerleaders talk about their favorite cheers before Friday night’s pee-wee cheerleading event.
"They are all so excited," said cheerleading coach Ashely Bonnette.
Around 60 girls in grades kindergarten through fifth grade participated in Friday's event, which gave them a chance to cheer alongside Marietta High School's cheerleaders.
"I get to walk around the field with the big cheerleaders," said 6-year-old Maddy Carpenter.
Carpenter and pal Emma Middleton, 6, squealed with delight as they held hands with the varsity cheerleaders, and cheered Marietta High School's football team onto the field. Carpenter and Middleton said they were most looking forward to doing the Tiger Rumble.
The Tiger Rumble was one of 10 cheers the girls learned during a Sept. 22 mini cheer camp. During the three-hour camp, the girls worked with Marietta High and Middle school cheerleaders to learn cheers and a dance for Friday's game, said cheerleading coach Andrea Eichhorn.
"(Kindergarten) through second (grade) gets to cheer the first quarter. Third through fifth will cheer during the second quarter. And seventh and eighth will cheer in the third quarter," she said.
Learning from the high school cheerleaders was the best part of the experience for fifth grade Washington Elementary student Haleigh Seevers, she said.
"It was awesome learning the dance and learning the cheers. A lot of the cheers we didn't know," said Seevers. But the elementary girls were not the only ones who got a kick out of the experience.
"It was a blast. I love little kids," gushed MHS varsity cheerleader Brieanna Fought about teaching the girls at cheer camp.
"They like to be leaders and they like all the little girls looking up to them," said Bonnette of the student instructors.
Reigning in the raucous group was a bit of challenge.
"They are pretty hyper," said freshman cheerleading coach Stacy Reynolds, whose fourth-grade daughter cheered alongside the high school squad during the second quarter.
But hyper is not necessarily bad when it comes to cheerleaders.
"They have lots of spirit. It just comes naturally at that age," said seventh grade cheerleading coach Megan Gault.
In fact, all the high school cheerleaders and cheer coaches agreed on one thing.
"It looks like we have a lot of great potential cheerleaders," said Gault.
Varsity cheerleader Gracey Bailey said she was a little surprised by how well the girls took to the cheers.
"They are actually really good. They are better on timing than I thought they'd be," she said.
As the varsity cheerleaders announced the Tiger Rumble, an excited chatter broke out on the sidelines.
"Everybody do the Tiger Rumble," yelled Carpenter, and the pee-wee cheerleaders rumbled their hearts out.