The Journal Gazette
Sunday, November 24, 2019 1:00 am

Area cheerleaders head to NYC

Teens to march Thursday in Macy's Parade

Barb Sieminski | For The Journal Gazette

Three cheers for three cheerleaders!

Three of Huntington North's varsity cheerleaders are en route to the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

“When I found out, I was thrilled for my daughter,” said Dave Pearson, father of Lauryne. “I realize the rich tradition that surrounds the parade, so to have her be a part of that is a special thing. We are very proud of these cheerleaders and know they will represent their school and community well.”

Not only are the three high school juniors – Arianna Betterly, Dylinn Hertel and Lauryne Pearson – marching in the parade Thursday, but they are also the only high school cheerleaders from Indiana at the event.

Since they were seventh graders at Crestview Middle School, the three have been together encouraging school teams with their cheers, said Betterly, who may keep cheerleading in college.

“Throughout middle school, I had enjoyed cheering but never took it too seriously,” Betterly said. “Once I began cheerleading in high school, I knew right away that cheer would become a passion of mine. I wanted to give my heart and soul to this activity because not only do you work hard, but you also have to give it all of your heart, too. Cheering on a crowd and getting everyone fired up at games is something I will never get tired of.

“The feeling of smiling my heart out and making others feel your passion is so special and touching to me. I hope to inspire other little girls to join cheer one day or to never give up on their dreams because they are worth pursuing.”

Last summer the Huntington North cheer squad attended a three-day camp at Manchester University sponsored by the Universal Cheerleaders Association, where they auditioned for All-American cheerleader status. They all made the cut.

Ironically, the girls were invited to walk with 15 other All-American cheerleaders in the New Year's Day Parade in London on Jan. 1, 2020. The cost to travel overseas was prohibitive, so the three families decided to hook up with Spirit of America, which offered the chance to audition for the Macy's parade.

The girls made a video of themselves cheering and sent the video to Spirit of America after they returned from camp and less than 24 hours later, they were notified that they had been accepted for Macy's parade.

As a bonus, Miss America will be on their float, either marching ahead of them or behind them.

None of them had been to the Big Apple and their excitement was palpable. Wearing their new All-American outfits, they will be part of a 500-person cheerleading group performing chant-and-cheer routines along the parade route. A video was sent to them outlining the cheers they will do together in the parade.

“Stunting is one of my favorite parts of cheerleading, even though that's the most exhausting part,” said Pearson, who plans to cheer in college and also continue her dance background. “I love learning new skills and stunts and being able to work as a team with my stunt group. I've learned so much and love growing with my team. The work always pays off.

“I especially enjoy it when after a game a few little girls come up and ask for a picture; I love being able to have little girls look up to my team and hearing them express a desire to become cheerleaders, too.”

The trio will stay with a fourth cheerleader in a quad room in New York, and are looking forward to meeting her, as she is a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, where 17 people were killed in the Valentine's Day mass shooting in 2018.

The Huntington North group (and their accompanying families who will room separately) will also have lots of time for sightseeing, such as taking a ferry ride to the Statue of Liberty, going to a Broadway show, attending the Radio City Music Hall's Rockettes' Christmas Spectacular and other attractions.

Asked what the most memorable experience was in the girls' lives to date, Hertel admitted hers was probably the most humiliating.

“We were all running out to do a cheer on the basketball court,” Hertel recalled, “and I tripped over someone's foot and fell right in front of the whole crowd. It was super embarrassing, but I was told it was a very graceful fall. Now, every time I run out onto the court, I'm super cautious of where other people's feet are.

“Cheer has been an amazing journey,” Hertel said. “I started out cheering with Ari and Lauryne and we're about to be rolling into senior year together. It's crazy how much we've grown over the years and cheer has given me a second family, some of my best friends and so much more. It's taught me how to be positive even in tough situations and to be kind to those who need it more than they realize. Cheer has been stressful and time-consuming, but it has also been fun and uplifting.

“I can't imagine my life without cheer in it.”

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