The Cottage Grove cheer team now has three All-Americans.
During the first weekend of September, two instructors from the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) came to Cottage Grove to host a camp at the high school for the team. In addition to team-bonding events, the squad worked on routines, stunts and jumps in preparation for the upcoming school year.
The instructors also doled out the prestigious honor of All-American to Cottage Grove’s Angelica Manuntag, Kyleigh Joseph and Zoey Bray.
“The instructors have very strict guidelines that they have to follow. And then they pull out their computer and put it into a national database that compares them to the other cheerleaders that tryout and they get chosen based on that,” said head coach Melissa Hatling. “So it’s not like, you have pretty hair, it’s really skill-based. That was pretty cool that those kids got that opportunity.”
With the accolade, the All-Americans get the chance to participate in events such as the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade and college football’s Citrus Bowl with the caveat that they would have to pay for said trips.
“They do have to pay for it all themselves and it is expensive, but even just being honored. I know the three that got it were just shocked,” said Hatling.
In the build-up to the award, members of the team are nominated based on specific skills. Manuntag was nominated for jumps, Joseph for stunting and Bray for motions. After the conclusion of camp, those nominated then perform a routine in addition to jumps and tumbling.
“So they said, Angelica and then Zoey and then the last person they said was me. I was like really shocked because I did not think I would make the actual team,” said Joseph. “Because they were talking about like everyone in America has to hit that number to be on the team. I was like I don’t know if I can do that. That was just really exciting and like wow.”
She was certainly not the only one filled with emotion.
“It’s stressful because you don’t know the material very well. You just learned it. It was stressful for me,” said the sophomore Bray. “I saw my video and I didn’t really see anything where I was like, oh, I could have done that better. I think that I put the best I could have out on the mat. I was proud of myself.”
While the members who were named All-Stars would certainly like to go to the events, the financial realities may not see this dream into fruition. But that’s not stopping them from enjoying the moment.
“It’s enough to just know that I made the team,” said Bray.