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Rivals in the stadium, leaders in the community

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They may be rivals on the field, but six southern Denton County high school athletes become family at the gym.

Hayley Joeris, Lexi Nicholson, Amanda Culver, Danielle Ruemenapp, Paulina Bracker and Nakota Raines are members of the Excite! Gym All-Star cheerleading program in Highland Village.

Although the girls cheer for rival high schools, they come together and work as a team under one roof at Excite!  Not only do they shine when they perform together, they are role models at their schools and in their communities.

The young ladies, who are all captains of their school cheer teams, keep up with their studies, memorize routines, create cheers, direct their peers, and to top it all off most hold part-time jobs to ease the financial burden on their families.

“Competitive cheer has helped me in life because it has taught me to work hard and finish everything I start,” said Hayley Joreris, who is ranked 56 out of 791 in her class at Marcus High School. “I have stayed organized by prioritizing my time and using every spare minute to my advantage.”

As Varsity cheer captain at Marcus High School, Joeris said that she has stepped up to the challenges of her demanding schedule

“Having to deal with high school cheer, competitive cheer, a job and school has definitely been a challenge, but I have gotten used to the time requirements and have adjusted my sleep and social schedule around them.”

The cheer captains exhibit leadership skills by assisting their coaches with mentoring to their peers.

“Being a cheer captain is a privilege that comes with great responsibility,” said JoAnna Kegans, Guyer High School Head Cheerleading Coach.  “Captains are expected to assist their coaches and act as a mentor to squad members. Our captains must lead their team on the sidelines but serve as the ultimate role model for other cheerleaders.

“Lexi Nicholson is an excellent example of what a captain should be. She has the respect of her teammates and stands out as a leader on her squad as well as our entire campus.”

These competitive cheerleaders from three different school districts have proven to be helpful to their teams by raising the bar on their high school squads.

“Competitive cheerleaders have experience putting the team first and understanding that every member of the team is an integral part of the squad’s success which helps create an environment that every member of the squad must always be present and perform their personal best,” said Nema House, Marcus High School Head Cheerleading Coach.

“Girls who compete generally push themselves to the next level and strive to accomplish personal perfection, and that gives others a benchmark example that raises the overall skill level and expectation of the entire squad.”

The hard work that has been accomplished by the team at Excite! will pay off now and in the future, according to Excite! owner Julie Hutchens and business partner Rischard Landers.

“First off, the pride we feel in these kids and their achievements and work ethic is beyond words,” said Hutchens.  “Taking on competitive and high school cheer is definitely not easy but will make these kids stand out in their college and future job applications.

“They learn early on the ability to make choices, schedule their tasks to be done and achieve them without complaint. They learn balancing social “wants” to the responsibility of what they “need” to do for their team and community. These kids set their sights high on themselves and on others going the path with them.

“The balance of learning to lead your peers in excitement; as in high school cheer is tough. As is leading your all star peers in discipline, drive and a physical push makes these two areas of cheer a perfect mix. Both forms of cheer are for those wanting more, doing more so to have more. Pat these kids on the back when you see them…they are going after what they want and not asking anyone to hand it to them.”

Pictured above: Top row: Hayley Joeris, Lexi Nicholson, Amanda Culver; Middle: Danielle Ruemenapp and Paulina Bracker; Bottom: Nakota Raines

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