PREP CHEER: ‘Anything can be reached with a little bit of patience and kindness’: Good Hope’s Kylee Denney talks sophomore season

Good Hope’s Kylee Denney. (Courtesy of Kylee Denney)

GOOD HOPE, Ala. — In this interview, I talked to Good Hope sophomore cheerleader Kylee Denney. This season was her first as a varsity cheerleader and she was feels blessed to work alongside some amazing teammates.

“To me, it was very eye-opening to be a part of such a powerful team and be under the leadership of some absolutely inspiring women. Coming into the season, I had little experience and I had zero to no confidence, but finding out that I had met a group of girls who would become part of my family was awesome. Cheering alongside some of the greatest athletes I’ve inspired to be like was truly just a moment where you have to stop and think, ‘Wow, I’m actually here'”, Denney said. “I learned many valuable lessons, such as you are always representing not only yourself, but the people around you, so always carry yourself with confidence and kindness. Most of all, always have a smile on your face, because you don’t know what people could be going through, but just being there and being kind could make everything better for them.”

Kylee soaked up as much as she could from her cheer coaches and from senior Ashlin Hamm.

“Mrs. Brandy Lowe is a powerful, strong woman who knows how to really uplift the spirits of young girls, and Mrs. Madalyn Brown is a sweet, compassionate person who is willing to help anyone who is struggling, and will always be a person you can come to about anything. They are both wonderful coaches to work under and any girl on the Good Hope cheer team knows that if they ever need anything, their coaches will always be there, no matter the circumstance,” Denney said. “I learned that anyone who puts in the time, work, and effort to succeed will always have a great outcome, that with great effort comes great rewards. Also, struggle is something that is going to happen. It is part of our human nature to have some challenges in life, but no matter how hard, as long as you keep your head held high and your hopes even higher, anyone can achieve anything.”

She added,

“Ashlin Hamm is a gorgeous, talented, and inspiring girl to work with. Not only was she encouraging on the mat, she was also encouraging in the classroom. She taught each and every girl that we are incredible and are lucky to have found a team that will lead us to our dreams. She really was one of my biggest inspirations as a person. She always pushed herself past her limits in order to show all the younger cheerleaders that anything can be reached with a little bit of patience and kindness.”

Kylee learned a lot from the upperclassmen and talked about her experience at state.

“I learned that standing out is more important than trying to fit in anywhere, and finding a space I could call my safe place was just truly special,” she said. “In all honesty, it was a dream that I had never truly thought I would be able to reach, but once it was, I just wanted to grasp that feeling and never let it go. The sounds of the crowd and your fellow cheerleaders screaming for you, alongside the other amazing teams that were there competing with such great sportsmanship and amazing kindness, was just a truly breathtaking experience. Honestly, the memories of just being there with a group of girls that are so supportive, funny, and amazing was perfect. If I could relive the moment when you are finished with your routine and you are celebrating on the mat with your teammates over and over, I would never come back to reality.”

Kylee saw her performance continue to get better and better throughout the season and being around some amazing girls and coaches have helped her become the person that she is today.

“Looking back, watching videos from the beginning of tryouts to competing at state, I would say my performance and the way I carried myself on the mat was a tremendous change. Coming from someone who had no confidence walking in, to becoming a powerful cheerleader all in the span of one season, is a moment when you stop and say, ‘Wow. I have changed so much. I have honestly become a better me from the experiences,” she said. “It helped me as a person become not only nicer but taught me how to be empathetic of other people, and to push myself past what I believe is ‘my limits’ because I am way more than what my conscience tells me. I’m a strong, beautiful, charismatic, and devoted woman who aspires to make a change in the day-to-day life of others.”

Kylee will take next season off to work on herself more before coming back to cheer her senior year and has some goals set for herself and the team that year.

“I recently came to the decision to work on myself as a person and a cheerleader and to work on myself mentally and physically. I will skip this upcoming cheer season, but I will come back my senior year as a powerhouse with the determination to do anything even possibly achievable. I want to be able to inspire young girls like Ashlin had inspired me,” she said. “My individual goals are to do multiples to a full (tumbling pass) and to be a flyer that is not scared of anything thrown her way. And as a team, I would love to accomplish any obstacle thrown our way, to win county and state, and to compete and place high up at Nationals in Disney World.”

Kylee talked about what made this cheer squad special to watch and what will make the cheer squad her special year great to watch.

“It will just be fulfilling to watch knowing that I am a part of something so strong, and to be able to watch young girls find their happy place in life, just like I did this past cheer season. Every girl on the cheer team is so beautiful, compassionate, strong, and courageous for putting themselves out there for the world to literally sit and judge. Instead of letting that fear get to them, they just have fun with that with what they have and just overall, push each other as a whole.”

Kylee had a couple of role models that she looked up to and talked about the best advice that she was ever given.

“I mostly looked up to Ashlin Hamm and Kailey White. Ashlin was just an amazing cheerleader to watch. Kailey always had a smile on her face, and she put everyone in a better mood when times were stressful,” she said. “The best advice I ever heard was that no matter the struggle, the people around you will always have your back and will always hope to see the best version of you.”

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