By R. Alan Richardson
World Champions are found in almost every sport you can imagine. Don’t believe it? Try that thing they call Google to see the results. Cheerleading is no exception and one of our very own Morgan County Bulldog cheerleaders, Rebecca Lindsey, can say that she knows what it means to compete against the best in the world. She cheers with the Stingray All Stars Peach out of Marietta, one of the highest ranked squads in the world. Last year’s team finished second in the World Championship Competition behind only Spirit of Texas and fourth in 2016. The event was held at ESPN’s Wide World of Sports facility in Orlando. It was also televised. Three years ago they finished as World Champions. To say you are the best in the whole world is a mighty bold statement. After all, the world is a pretty big place.
The 17-year-old senior started her stellar career at nine when she joined the Force Gym in Athens. From there she transferred her talents to ProCheer in Hoschton before gaining a tryout with the Stingrays. Lindsey said, “It was my goal since middle school to be on this team after seeing them perform in Orlando. I saw they had an open spot on social media, went to the tryout, and made the squad. It was a dream come true for me.”
The classification she competes in is the medium senior level 5 division. Medium refers to the size of the team at 28 girls, senior is ages 12-18, and level 5 is the highest level of competition in All-Star cheer. To put it in lay terms, Lindsey is one of the finest cheerleaders competing in the state, country, and world. According to her mother, Kathy Lindsey, many of these squads have higher tumbling skills than most college cheer teams and the meets can draw crowds larger than seen at the Olympics.
Lindsey has cheered at Morgan County since the sixth grade under the tutelage of Denise Frost, Leslie Watkins, Kelly White, and Ashley Wegmann. The cheer team has put themselves on the state-wide map since 2014 with Region Championships in 2014, ’15, and ’16 finishing eighth, seventh, and fourth at state in those years.
Becoming a world-class cheerleader does not come easy. Just ask her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Mitch Lindsey. The time, money, and travel involved can be mind-boggling. During MCHS competition cheer season, the schedule is more than demanding. She practices at the high school from 3:30-5:30 p.m. and then makes the 90-mile (one-way) trip to Marietta in awful driving conditions to practice with the Stingrays from 7:00-9:00. Not just occasionally, folks. This is an every day of the week program. She also practices on Sunday and travels the country to compete in meets on Saturdays. How she still maintains her 3.5 GPA as a dual enrollment student at GMC is a mystery to most. Upon graduation, Lindsey will have accumulated eight college credits for eight college classes. That in itself is impressive.
When asked what her most memorable experience has been, Lindsey was quick to respond. “Last year we had a competition where Level 5 teams joined in to raise money called Friday Night Live. It was just for fun and fundraising and we raised $10,000. There were three members of the squads that raised the most that were chosen to represent them at St. Jude Children’s Hospital in Memphis. We toured the Target House where families with long-term care patients stay, served food to them, and toured the hospital. That visit changed my life.” When asked how it changed her she commented, “It made me see that my problems were insignificant compared to others.”
According to the all-star, that visit has given her a heart for kids. She’s now considering a career as a pediatric physical therapist due to her experience there. However, her ‘perfect world’ down the road would be to go to South Carolina on scholarship and cheer for the Gamecocks. “Some of my former teammates at Stingrays are cheering there now and really seem to like it.”
Kathy Lindsey chimed in on her daughter’s success with, “We’ve never pushed her. In fact, she wanted to do it and practically begged us to pursue cheerleading. It’s been an amazing experience and more than we ever imagined. The team and girls she cheers with are amazing athletes and some of the best in the country. Her coaches (Scott East and Wendy McConnell) are some of the best in the world. I was never a ‘cheer Mom’, but we love it now. She’s paid her dues to get to this level.”
Some of the things you notice when talking with this young lady are her humble spirit, thankful attitude, and great personality. She wanted to thank a lot of people. “My parents have paid, driven, and supported me throughout this entire journey. They’ve been amazing. My grandparents (Susan and Tom Tredway) have also been right there with me. My career wouldn’t be the same without my coaches at Stingrays. It’s great to be on the team. They’ve taught me so much about self-discipline, life lessons, and hard work by how hard they push me. I’d like to thank Ashley Wegmann and all the current high school coaches as well as my teammates for being some of my best friends on and off the floor.”
No matter what happens next for Lindsey, one thing’s for sure. She’ll not only continue to excel as a World-Class Cheerleader, but also as a World-Class person.
2016 World Championship Final Standings
Medium Senior – Level 5
1. Spirit of Texas – A-Team
2. The Stingray All Stars – Peach
3. FAME All Stars – Super Seniors
4. Top Gun All Stars – Lady Jags
5. Brandon All Stars – Senior Pink
6. California All Stars – Aces
7. East Celebrity Elite – Fierce 5
8. Cheer Extreme – Waldorf Shade
9. Cheers & More – Lady Respect
10. South Jersey Storm – Lady Reign