IN A SMALL TOWN, many components culminate to make Friday night football games the memorable experiences they are. The most notable element, of course, is the people. Individuals playing different roles, whether large or small, come together to create a magical atmosphere.
A father attends to the grill in the booster club concessions stand. As he lifts the lid to rotate the sizzling hot dogs and flip hamburgers, a mouthwatering aroma drifts into the air and fills the stadium. An adorable little girl with a high ponytail and homemade pompoms stands directly in front of the varsity cheerleaders. Her reckless kicks, claps, and twirls bring a grin to every face that passes her by. A proud grandfather carries his padded stadium seat to the top of the bleachers. His commitment to snag the “best seats in the house,” no matter how long it takes him to climb the bleacher steps, warms the hearts of everyone around him. Out in the parking lot, a young artist paints large letters on the chests of her high school friends. Her creativity and skill soon line the front row of the student section, creating a visual symbol of support. A band member on the drumline plays a rhythm that sets the tone for the entire crowd. His tempo will become the very heartbeat of the night. Last but not least, a cheerleader engages the whole crowd and elicits help in cheering. Her peppy spirit rallies the entire stadium into a rambunctious fight chant.
Hannah Chessor, an upcoming senior at Tullahoma High School, has been that engaging cheerleader for the Tullahoma Wildcats for the last several years. She said, “I am extremely blessed and grateful to be able to be a cheerleader and cheer on the Wildcats. I enjoy that our community comes together and supports the Wildcats during football season. Whether they come out on Friday night to watch the football team, listen to the band, or watch the cheerleaders, it’s just really a beautiful thing to see so many people in Tullahoma come together. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.”
Chessor went into detail about why cheering for the Wildcats has been an experience of a lifetime. She began with the most recent feat of cheering at the state championship game against Elizabethton. The intense game led to double overtime. Then, the winning fate was sealed for the Wildcats when Krys Uselton picked off a pass intended for an Elizabethton receiver. Chessor reminisced, “Cheering at the state championship was a very surreal experience. I remember when the other team had the ball. Our cheerleaders and student section were all cheering so loud. Our cheerleaders were holding hands, and when we made that interception we all just started jumping up and down. A lot of us were crying because of how proud we were. It was an amazing experience, and I’m so grateful to have had the opportunity to cheer on the Wildcats both then and now.”
What stirred up Chessor’s desire to become a Wildcat cheerleader happened over a decade ago when Chessor was a young, impressionable girl.
She said, “I often went to football games on Friday nights. I would always stand in front of where the cheerleaders would cheer. Ever since then, I always wanted to become one myself.” While Chessor did become a cheerleader for the Wildcats, she has also become so much more. Being on the squad, coached by Sharon Woodard and Macy Olive, has helped Chessor personally develop in ways that far outlive cheerleading. Chessor shared that during her time as a cheerleader, she has learned life skills such as leading by example. Chessor said, “In such an impressionable role like a cheerleader, many people see us on the football field or during school. Our coaches have really stressed the importance of being a good example. They encourage us to be the person that goes up to others and says hi to them and asks how their day is going.” Completing her thought, Chessor also added, “However, I have learned it’s okay not to be perfect. That is something I really struggled with, but I have learned it’s okay to make mistakes because those mistakes can help you grow as an individual.”
Chessor plans to continue to cheer and lead by example in her senior year. Then, after graduating this spring, Chessor aims to attend the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa. She would like to major in aerospace engineering and hopefully work for NASA one day. Chessor shared, “Space has always really fascinated me. It’s like the ocean. We haven’t explored that much of the ocean, and there’s so much that we don’t know. It’s the same thing for space. I’m a very solution-based person, so finding answers about our universe and world is just so fascinating to me. So that is my plan.” The sky is NOT the limit for this young lady. We at Good News wish her well. GN