GOOD HOPE, Ala. — In this interview, I talked to Good Hope sophomore cheerleader Jessalyn Nichols. This was her first season on the varsity cheer team, and she had an amazing experience, along with some help from her fellow cheerleaders. She learned a lot from them, especially the lone senior on last year’s team, Ashlin Hamm.
“It was definitely a fun experience, and the girls were so sweet and welcoming. We all pushed each other and uplifted each other on bad days. We were a really good team and worked so good together. No one was problematic and we are like sisters to one another,” Nichols said. “I learned that though this was a rebuild year, it was also a super good year for Good Hope. I also learned leadership, trust, and what it really means to work hard. Ashlin was such a good leader and she always wanted to get better every day. She was so nice and encouraging and always had her hand out to help us. She was also a good role model to the younger girls. She helped me with mental blocks, cheers we had to learn for game days, and competition cheers and stunts.”
Jessalyn also tried to learn as much as she could from the other upperclassmen on the cheer squad and from her coaches as well.
“I learned to be a good leader and try my best, even when no one is watching. Always smile, be confident, and be a good role model to the youth cheerleaders because they are always looking up to us. Always help one another, and be patient and respectful to one another,” Nichols said. “Coach Brandy Lowe is very hard on us and has very high expectations at the beginning of the season just because she already knows we are capable of anything. She is such a good coach, sometimes, I forget she is my coach. I’m just so close to her and know I can go to her with anything. Mrs. Sydney Chappell is also very helpful. She helps critique the little things we need help with. Coaches Lacy and Josh Stancil are amazing. They are such good people and would sacrifice anything for their teams.”
“I’m so thankful for them. They are able to have a good time while being serious, and they are so creative with routines. They always have some of the best ideas. It was a blessing being coached by all of these people this year. Every one of them have helped all of us cheerleaders build our relationships with God, them, and each other.”
Good Hope made yet another appearance at state and Jessalyn had an amazing experience, plus she learned so much during that time as well.
“It was so fun. This would be my second year going to state with varsity gameday, first in traditional. It was such a fun experience. We finished runners-up in class 4A in traditional. We were shocked and didn’t even realize our name was called for it. We were so excited because we had worked extra hard for it and I think we deserved it,” she said. “I learned that hard work pays off and always have faith in yourself and your team. No one thought we would make it that far, but we proved every one of them wrong.”
Jessalyn’s overall performance improved a lot this past season. She will take the year off to work on some things before coming back to cheer her senior year.
“I have definitely improved a ton. I walked in this past season with no confidence, lower tumble skills, and a few stunting skills. Within months, I got my standing tuck, running tuck/layout and standing series to a tuck and stunting. We have gotten low-to-high full-around to lib, basket round-off up to extension, and tics in extension,” she said. “I will not be doing Good Hope cheer next year due to working on tumble skills, such as standing series to a layout/fulls, and running fulls for a better chance of making a college team one day.”
Jessalyn already has her goals and team goals ready for when she becomes a senior, plus she talked about what will make that cheer team special to watch.
“I plan on us winning state and maybe even a few other titles. I’m excited to be a leader and be a role model for the younger girls and their shoulder to lean on. I hope to be positive and a help to all the younger girls. Show them that if you want to accomplish anything, you have to work for it and show how bad you want it. I hope our team will be just as willing to work to get better. Never lose sight of what is most important, which is the bond our team has,” she said. “What will make this team special to watch that year is watching and knowing that each and every one of the girls have a determination to get better as a cheerleader and a person. They know that they have worked so hard for that two minutes and 30 seconds on the mat, and watching everyone’s faces light up when we hit everything; they will know that all the sacrifices were definitely worth it in the end.”
Jessalyn had a couple of role models that she looked up to when she was younger and shared some of the best advice she was ever given.
“I looked up to Destiny Powe and Callie Shelton when I was younger,” she said. “The best advice I’ve ever received was to rely on your team and just do your job on the mat to your best ability. Lift each other up on the mat to give each other more energy.”
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