By R. Alan Richardson
Kaylee Darsey, daughter of John and Jodi Darsey, has certainly made her mark on the athletic program at MCHS participating in both cheerleading and softball. The senior made history this past week when she became the very first cheerleader to ever sign a scholarship to cheer at the next level. Kaylee said, “I started taking gymnastics when I was three and began cheering in the fourth grade. We moved to Morgan County when I was in the eighth grade and I continued my cheer career at Morgan County Middle School. I’ve cheered for four years in competition, football, and basketball at the high school and also played softball for the past two years mainly as a pinch runner.”
As a freshman, Darsey suffered a broken back doing a full-up stunt during summer practice in July. Initially, the injury was diagnosed as a pulled muscle. She took a few days off to rest, came back, and reinjured it only to find after x-rays that there was a compression fracture in one of her vertebrae. The long recovery took about three months, but she returned for the region competition with only four days of practice. That in itself tells you about the character and resolve of this young lady has.
She has signed a full-ride scholarship with academic, character, and athletic money for the next four years to cheer at Shorter University in Rome, Georgia. Kaylee will be competing in competition, football, and basketball cheer. She said, “We went to cheer camp at Shorter two years ago and I hated it there. After praying about different schools, Shorter kept coming to my mind. It’s a Baptist College and that where I needed to be. The cheer team there has won the National Championship four out of the last seven years. It’s a good school with high academics and great athletic programs.” She plans on going into pharmacy, radiology, or some field that involves chemistry and mathematics.
Her father, who is a pastor and community coach at MCHS made these comments about his daughter and family, “Our kids have been our life. We have a son at Valdosta who was a wrestler and football player in high school who I was fortunate enough to coach. I’m most proud of her character. She’s a good girl, good student-athlete, and daughter. I’m so proud of her faith and told her that if she would take care of those things, the Lord would take care of her future.”
Kaylee has been the captain of the cheerleading squad, Miss Football, honor graduate, received the Presidential Scholarship, and was vice-president of her senior class. Dad again commented, “We’ve loved Morgan County for her. Her career has been a high school dream. She now has an opportunity to receive a free college education. It’s been a perfect relationship for us and me to get to coach and watch her in all sports. Kaylee is hard-working like her Mom. I hope her success will be a model to other young girls that reflects values and not just victory. I’m more proud of her as a person than anything else.”
The following comments were made by both Leslie Watkins and Ashley Wesmann, the competition coaches this year. “When we were in a slump or we could tell that morale was down, the coaches always went to this young lady to lift us up- often with a prayer- EVEN during one of the toughest times in her life. She was definitely our spiritual leader this year. While her faith was a driving factor in her success, her fierce competitive nature also helped get our team ready to compete. She made sure everyone was pumped up and ready to win when we walked on the mat. Along with her leadership, her skills as a base and tumbler were incredible. She was always consistent and even though she battled chronic back pain, she never let this injury affect her performances. She has also left very big shoes to fill.”
Head cheerleading Coach Denise Frost couldn’t say enough about her senior captain, “Kaylee Darsey is every coach’s dream of an athlete. She is dedicated and committed to the sport of cheerleading. She works hard at improving her abilities and continues to challenge herself within cheer. At the same time, she encourages her fellow teammates to become their best self also. She was the motivator and the encourager. Often she would send out bible verses or texts to others just to pick them up and help them have a better day. She was a great asset to the spirit squad because she truly understands the sports that she cheers for and genuinely loves the games. She has received several honors this year that truly reflect her love for cheer. She was selected at summer camp as an FCA All-American and as such performed at the Chick-fil-A Bowl parade and fanfare pep rally. She was given the opportunity to audition and was selected to become a FCA summer camp instructor. She was selected for the Coaches Award and Region 8AAA All-Region Cheerleading Team. As far as I know, while there have been former MCHS cheerleaders to cheer at the college level, I believe that she is the first cheerleader from Morgan County High School to sign a scholarship to cheer at the collegiate level.
It has been a pleasure watching her mature in her cheerleading abilities and grow into an amazing young lady. She is like a daughter to me and her graduation is very bittersweet. Kaylee served as one of the senior captains this year and her presence and willingness to help will be greatly missed. I wish her all the best on her collegiate cheer career at Shorter University.”
Darsey went on to thank several people saying, “My Mom has kept me from walking away from cheer so many times, but she said it would pay off and told me that she didn’t raise a quitter. My Dad has been a perfect example of a Godly man. He always encouraged me to be the best person, young lady, and athlete I could be. Coach Frost put up with me for four years and loved me like her own while Coach Watkins showed me there’s more to life than cheerleading. Coach Wegmann pushed me when I needed to be pushed and never gave up on me. My teammates motivated and encouraged me and never failed to make me laugh. I also want to thank Jordan Adcock and Sydney Nash for being my sisters and friends I could count on. Mostly, I would like to thank God who’s blessed me with all these talents and gotten me to where I am today.”