PREP CHEER: ‘I want to leave an impact on them that they will always remember’: Fairview’s Brynlee Merriman looking forward to senior year

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Fairview’s Brynlee Merriman. (Courtesy of Brynlee Merriman)

FAIRVIEW, Ala. – In this interview, I spoke to upcoming senior Fairview cheerleader Brynlee Merriman. Merriman has been cheering on the varsity squad since 10th grade and feels blessed to be cheering alongside some great teammates.

“It has been great, having a team that supports you, no matter what, is the best feeling at such a young age. As always, we have our rough times, but you learn so many lessons by pushing through those obstacles. Even at times when we didn’t get along, at the end of the day, though, we were a great team and we figured things out,” Merriman said. “Since becoming a varsity cheerleader, I have learned that family can be made anywhere. Even though we may not be related, these are the girls I spend most of my school year with every time I make the team. Creating these bonds with them has taught me to become kind, patient, loyal, and every life skill that it takes to build a great relationship with someone. Us communicating with one another and solving problems together has made us closer and together. These are the skills that I haven’t just learned; the whole team has as well. As our head coach, Candi Martin, says, ‘There isn’t an I in team’.”

Brynlee is cheering under a couple of great coaches and has soaked up so much from them so far. She was blessed to learn so much from some great seniors as well.

“Candi Martin and Lacey Sizemore are coaches that will make you better. There are days we think they are being too harsh on us or being too demanding, but as I have grown, I have realized that this is just to make us better. Having them there to push us to our limits and make us believe in ourselves is what has made our team better each year. They have taught me I have to work for what I want. In life, we can’t just stand around and hope that something will change, or we won’t achieve our goals. All of this comes with hard work and repetition,” Merriman said. “The seniors were Samantha Rogers, Canaan Carroll, and Katelynn Sims. They worked very hard to be good role models for us coming into this new season. They were caring and were there for us, no matter what the situation was. You could say they were very understanding and considerate.”

She added,

“They have made us self-disciplined and made us learn to test our limits with our abilities. Whether it was stunts, cheers, or overall team bonding, they always had us pushing to be better, which still applies, even with them gone. They left such an impact on me and the whole team. They stood up for us and took charge to make sure we were the best that we could be. I appreciate them for taking time out of their day to be leaders for us. They showed me how to be the best captain I can be for the team this year, and how to be their role model, not just over varsity, but even to the younger ones that look up to us.”

Brynlee got named captain for her upcoming senior year and talked about that, plus how much her performance has grown over the years and what she will work on to get ready for the upcoming season.

“It was a privilege being voted this year’s captain by my team. But it is also a challenge that I learned to accept. As a captain, you are given a great responsibility that not many people can handle. The blame will always fall on you, even when you have done your best, but it is your job to take that and use it to be a better one. Being given this title has made me realize my actions is what will lead this team and I am excited to see what I can do for these girls for the 2023/2024 season,” she said. “It has grown tremendously. I used to be a shy girl that was too scared to even stand in front of a crowd. Now, I can stand every Friday night in front of a full stadium, doing cheers and showing off my abilities that I have worked so hard for. Being a flyer has taught me so much. It has made me speak my mind and work with my peers.”

She added,

“Having those girls hold me so high in the air has taught me trust. This is the trust that I have used to get past those mental blocks that come with this sport. You need the courage to do what we do. Throwing some tucks or backhand springs takes so much out of you. It drains you so much mentally, because you have to battle with the voices in your head saying you can or can’t do it. This is what I will work on this upcoming year to be better at. I will learn to trust not just others, but myself in my tumbling and in my stunts.”

Brynlee has some goals set for herself and for the cheer squad next season and thinks this cheer team will be one to keep an eye on in 2023-24.

“My goas for this year is to teach the team responsibility and how to get through hardship. With me leaving after this year, I want to leave an impact on them that they will always remember. There are also the little things I make as my goals, like landing my tuck, or hitting certain stunts. I want this team to be the best, not just this year, but for the next few years as well. The overall team also sets goals at the first practice of every year. This year, we will be focusing on technique and the little things. We want to be known as the team with sharp motions and the stunts that go smooth. We don’t want to look like everything is a struggle. That is our goal.”

She added,

“What will make this team special to watch is how we perform. We all enjoy what we do and we are proud to accomplish so much. We have pride and you will be able to see that in every routine we create. With every stunt or movement, we will demonstrate skill and technique. We practice not just going through the motions but sticking them and focusing on every task at that time until the very end.”

A lot of the younger cheerleaders have really looked up to Brynlee and she talked about her role models growing up.

“I know there are many younger girls that have looked up to me. They have listened to my advice and seeing their eyes when they listen to me makes me appreciate what I do. Many of the older girls see me as someone who can take charge and has a lot of experience through every aspect of cheer. Not many will admit it, but I am glad I can help them with whatever they may need help with,” she said. “When I was younger, I always looked up to the captains that year and they would always seem to be my role models. But as I have grown up, I seem to look up to myself in some way. It may sound confusing, but what I mean by this is that every year or day, I will learn something new from someone.”

She added,

“I will take those lessons that they have taught me and become better. I rely on myself to be a role model. Everyone deserves their own experience with one another and by trying to be like someone else ruins the possibilities for yourself or others to grow.”

Brynlee got some great advice from one of her coaches that has stuck with her.

“The best advice someone has given me was by Mrs. Martin, when she would always say, ‘Never say you can’t, because you can do whatever you set your mind to’. This has stuck with me, and I will always rethink it in my head when I ever seem to doubt myself.”

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