Woodland rising senior Carlie Hendrix believes cheerleading has taught her how to have a positive outlook and how to become a leader. Both of those skills will be hugely important as the team captain …
Woodland rising senior Carlie Hendrix believes cheerleading has taught her how to have a positive outlook and how to become a leader. Both of those skills will be hugely important as the team captain vies to become Georgia Cheerleader of the Year.
It was announced last week that Hendrix was among 30 finalists for the honor. The only Bartow County cheerleader in the group, Hendrix was genuinely shocked to find out she had been selected out of the number of applicants.
"I can't believe I was chosen," she said. "That's just crazy to me. I'm so grateful to be considered to be in the top 30."
The 30 finalists were chosen after submitting an application that Hendrix said included both academic and athletic elements, as well as an essay about the impact cheerleading has had on the applicant's life.
Next up is the interview and cheer performance evaluations. The performance — which includes elements of jumping, tumbling and stunting — is weighed as 50% of the overall score, the interview is weighted as 25% and the original application is weighted as the remaining 25%. The top 12 receive all-state status, and the winner is named the state's cheerleader of the year.
Hendrix and Co. were originally slated to compete for the crown on Aug. 1, but COVID-19 concerns have postponed the event to Sept. 20 at Columbus State. There's a possibility the competition may have to become a virtual event.
"It's definitely going to be difficult for anybody who is competing at all, because we have to take a big break now," Hendrix said. "Luckily, this way we'll have a little bit more time to prepare than they usually allow us, so we'll have time to get ready to compete."
Her high school coach is just crossing her fingers that Hendrix will get to show off her skills.
"I just hope they have it, for her sake," Kathi Shedd said, "because she's just a really great kid."
Shedd saw Hendrix's older sister, Chloe, finish second overall last year and wonders if that might be a hard act for the younger Hendrix to follow.
"I feel like she has more pressure, because her sister was runner-up," Shedd said. "But she's good under pressure."
Hendrix, though, views her sister as an asset in prepping for the competition.
"She's a great help," she said. "She helps me so much with everything. She's a great resource to have, helping me prepare for the interview and giving tips and tricks on the routine.
"I definitely don't really feel any pressure. If anything, she's just always there to help me, which is awesome."
Despite the competition's uncertainty moving forward, Hendrix is fully focusing on preparing for the event as scheduled.
"It's going to be different, but I'm so happy we even get the chance to do it with COVID and all of that," she said. "I'm super excited to get to go down there and meet all of the people."
With the competition set to occur during the season, Hendrix knows time management will be key.
She'll have to spend her team practice time focused on helping a fairly inexperienced group — with just six returners from last season — try to make up for time lost this offseason. On top of that, Hendrix will have to spend extra time devoted specifically to getting ready for the COY competition.
But even in facing those hurdles, she can't shake those life lessons she's learned on the mat.
"I definitely have to go into everything with a positive attitude," Hendrix said of the upcoming season. "Things are going to be completely different this year. Even if we get to compete, it will be different, because we haven't had a lot of time to prepare. ...
"Change is good, so maybe, something good will come out of it."