SHERIDAN — With more than 50 young girls signed up, and a new coach on board, the Little Guy Football cheerleaders are ready for the first games of the season.
The cheerleading program has been offered through the Sheridan Recreation District since the 1980s and is open to girls in first through sixth grades. The girls cheer at all the games for the Little Guy Football teams.
For the past several years, the girls have been coached by Stephanie Vela. However this year they are being led by Sheridan High School senior cheerleader Kelsey Walton, after Vela took a job coaching the SHS cheerleaders.
Walton said she came to the coaching position after two of her younger sisters asked to participate in the cheerleading team, wanting to be just like their big sister.
“My mom took them to the district to sign them up and they said they didn’t have a coach since their coach is now my high school coach,” Walton said. “So my mom brought home the flyer and said, ‘I thought maybe you would want to do it.’ I said ‘yeah, I want to do it.’ I had an interview two days later.”
However, Walton pointed out that just because she is the coach, her younger sisters don’t get a free pass.
“I set some rules with them,” she said. “Just because your sister is the coach doesn’t mean you can get off with being lazy. You are going to work just as hard.”
Brooke Olson, recreation program supervisor for the Sheridan Recreation District, said that participation is up significantly from last year, with 56 girls signed up, compared to around 40 last year.
The cheerleaders are divided into the blue and gold squads. The gold squad will be at the flag football games for younger players and the blue group will cheer the older players participating in tackle football games.
Walton said the girls are very enthusiastic and that the first couple of practices have gone well.
“It went pretty great actually,” Walton said. “I am really excited how well they listened to me. Most of them are girls that have been in the program since first grade, so they already know most of them (cheers). They learn really fast.”
Walton acknowledged that she will have a busy fall, with the Little Guy Football league games as well as the high school football games, usually held on Friday nights.
“I am going to make it work,” she said. “I am just not sure how yet, but I am going to do it. I am pretty pumped.”
Walton is being assisted by SHS sophomore cheerleader Hailey Longhurst and by a mother of one of the cheerleaders who volunteered to help as needed.