Cheerleaders are always supposed to be in good spirits, but getting hyped got easier than ever for the Plant City High School team this summer.
This year’s PCHS cheer camp, the eighth annual event, was what Raiders head coach Karen Snapp called its biggest ever. Fifty kids attended this year’s two-day camp in the PCHS gymnasium — previously, by Snapp’s estimate, the highest-ever total was 35.
Though there were more campers than ever before, the Raiders were ready on Tuesday and Wednesday. Members from both PCHS cheer teams coached up the campers, who were between the ages of 4 and 13, with everything they’ll need to know to cheer at a high school level.
“I like to see (the PCHS cheerleaders) work,” Snapp said. “It puts a lot of the responsibility on my girls and that’s awesome because they always step up and do it.”
Younger campers learned simple chants, jumps and routines and got to shake their pom-poms loudly and proudly. Older campers learned more complex routines and some stunts. Campers also got to make arts and crafts.
For the PCHS cheerleaders themselves, the annual camp is one of the highlights of every summer.
“I just love little kids and being able to work with them,” Kaily Yacinich, a camp coach of four years, said. “Especially the youngest girls. They don’t have much attention span but I love playing with them and helping them learn new cheer skills. And they love to do jumps and forward rolls and all that stuff… this is so much fun for me.”
Some Raiders, like Grace Gainer, are fairly new to the camps but had a great time coaching the kids.
“It’s been a really cool experience. It’s team bonding and growing in the community,” Gainer said. “It’s really nice to see all these little girls come in with a big smile, get really close with you and warm up with you… it’s been an awesome experience and I’d honestly love to do it again if Snapp would have me come out as a super senior.”
Others, like seniors Mollie Badenhorst and Alex Fryer, went from attending the camps when they were younger to becoming a part of the PCHS team and finding themselves coaching the kids in the summer.
“It’s weird because I remember when I was young and I was like, ‘These girls are insane and old and really cool,” Badenhorst said. “I’m now one of those girls. And I still see myself as that little girl. I see college cheerleaders the same way they see us. It’s cool to see that perspective change.”