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Samantha tumbles her way into the spotlight

PRACTICE+MAKES+PERFECT-Samantha+is+showing+off+her+ZGA+uniform.+She+was+practicing+how+to+get+ready+in+uniform+quickly%2C+as+time+before+competition+can+be+short.+She+says%2C+%E2%80%9CAny+challenges+can+be+worked+out+with+constant+practice.%E2%80%9D
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Samantha tumbles her way into the spotlight

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT-Samantha is showing off her ZGA uniform. She was practicing how to get ready in uniform quickly, as time before competition can be short. She says, “Any challenges can be worked out with constant practice.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT-Samantha is showing off her ZGA uniform. She was practicing how to get ready in uniform quickly, as time before competition can be short. She says, “Any challenges can be worked out with constant practice.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT-Samantha is showing off her ZGA uniform. She was practicing how to get ready in uniform quickly, as time before competition can be short. She says, “Any challenges can be worked out with constant practice.”

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT-Samantha is showing off her ZGA uniform. She was practicing how to get ready in uniform quickly, as time before competition can be short. She says, “Any challenges can be worked out with constant practice.”

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Who is dedicated enough to drive as far as Niceville for practice, or even be willing to show up to practice for eight to ten hours a week, and then practice for three to four hours on her own time? That person would be Samantha Sherman, 7th grade. She is a very dedicated cheerleader for the Gulf Breeze Recreational Center and for a more professional team called ZGA (Zero Gravity Athletics) Comets.

Many think cheer is just showing up to a football game and saying, “Go team!” But it is not, it is so much more than that. In fact most of it doesn’t even have to do with football. It has many challenges, one of them being tumbling. Samantha says that it’s challenging because human bodies instinctively stop doing things that it thinks it can’t, so an athlete must work hard to overcome it. Samantha says, “It is something that you have to work at every day for hours.” Another challenge that is “particularly stressful” as Samantha says, is using flyers. Flyers are the cheerleaders that are thrown and do stunts in the air. Flyers are usually practiced from ages seven to ten. Since they are very young athletes, they often don’t know how to control their bodies in the air. Samantha says, “Any challenges can be worked out with constant practice.”  

When Samantha practices for the ZGA Comets, she practices at the Funplex in Gulf Breeze, and ZGA’s gym in Pensacola. However, other times, she and her team drive as far as Niceville for practices. Samantha’s Rec team practices in the nearby baseball fields. 

Her ZGA team practices as a squad by running through the routine and practicing each individual part. Samantha says, “All 25 of us have to do our jobs perfectly for the routine to be successful.” For her Rec team, they go through cheers, stunts, tumbles, and prepare for a short halftime routine each week. 

Samantha’s ZGA group is a competitive team, which means they compete in more professional competitions six to ten times a year, in front of hundreds of people, plus five to ten judges. Competitions take place in Civic Centers as far away as New Orleans or Nashville. Samantha and her team also showcase, which means that they are performing, not competing.  

Samantha started cheer when she was six years old. She played t-ball when she was four years old, and as she left practice, she saw cheerleaders as she was leaving. Samantha says, “I saw the looks of complete joy on their faces as they performed in perfect unison. I knew I wanted to do this as soon as I saw this.” Samantha says that her biggest motivation is “being able to someday compete in USASF World Cheerleading Championship. It’s like the Olympics for cheer.” She says that she loves cheer so much because of the great feeling she gets after walking off the mat, knowing she hit a perfect full-out in competition and  that the team is happy with the performance.

 

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Samantha tumbles her way into the spotlight