‘I just want to become the best cheerleader I can be’: Cold Springs’ McKinna Duke looking forward to senior year

Cold Springs' McKinna Duke. (Bill Piper/The Cullman Tribune)

BREMEN, Ala. — Senior cheerleader McKinna Duke is ready for her final cheer season at Cold Springs, and she feels blessed to be able cheer alongside a great group of girls. She has helped the younger cheerleaders get better every day and has enjoyed being one of the leaders on the squad.

“We all definitely have our highs and lows, but at the end of the day, being on a team with a great group of girls is amazing. Everyone works hard and tries their best to make us look great as a squad and to support our school in the best way possible,” Duke said. “I feel like all of the older girls have helped the younger ones on the squad and the girls that were interested in coming up in future seasons tremendously. We all try to make everyone feel equal on the team. We have helped them with many things such as cheers, chants, band dances, motions, jumps, stunts, and how to yell correctly without hurting their throat. We also go over anything they think they need help with. I personally love being one of the leaders on the squad. I love being able to help the younger girls and see them grow and mature with the rest of us.” 

McKinna feels lucky to have worked with a pair of amazing cheer coaches during her time at Cold Springs and has learned so much from them so far.

“April Burgess was my first cheer coach. She pushed me to the best of my abilities and helped make me the cheerleader I am today,” Duke said. “Mrs. Adrian Dickerson just became the cheer coach this year and she’s been working with the girls’ athletic program the whole school year. She’s been amazing so far. She’s a hard worker and she’s dedicated to helping us be the best we can be. She is the whole reason I am cheering my senior year and I couldn’t be happier to have her as my coach. I have learned so much from her about cheer. She helps us to be peppy and actually enjoy our time out on the field instead of us just going through the motions. She put the fun back in cheer for me. She also has a summer workout program that I attend that have helped me with my jumps, stunts, and my overall athletic ability and made me overall better at cheer.”

McKinna learned a lot from some of the veteran cheerleaders that came before her and she has set some big goals for herself and the team this season.

“My biggest influences were Breanna Bell, Emma McClendon, and Katie Salley. They helped me so much when I was starting out. Whether it was with my uniforms, learning cheers, or any questions I had, they were always there. I was so intimidated at first, but I looked up to them completely,” Duke said. “My goals are to become the captain or co-captain. I would also like to perfect my jumps and become a stronger back spot for stunts.”

She added,

“I just want to be able to help make our team better in any way possible and be able to help my teammates as much as I can. I would love to make all-county as well. I just want to become the best cheerleader I can be while helping my teammates be the best they can be as well. The team goals are to grow closer as a team, work really hard for county competition, improve our stunts and jumps, and just all-around, be the best team we can be so we can support our school.”

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