3 local cheerleaders make MSU cheer team

Half of the new members on MSU’s all-girl cheer team come straight out of Oak Grove High School.
Published: Jun. 27, 2021 at 9:26 PM CDT
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HATTIESBURG, Miss. (WDAM) - From Warriors to Bulldogs, three local girls are heading to Starkville as part of Mississippi State University’s all-girl cheerleading team.

Half of the new members on MSU’s all-girl cheer team come straight out of Oak Grove High School.

“All-girl had 90 participants sign up and go through the first round…,” said Chris Opheim, MSU head cheer coach. “We cut that down to under 40 for our in-person final round, and then we cut that down to 24. Out of that 24, 6 girls were new that were coming in from high school or transfer in and of those 6, half came from Oak Grove.”

Tate Woolbright, Mary Beth Kavanaugh and Shea Jorns all made the squad together.

“It was crazy because it was all three of us and we all were telling each other we’ll be happy no matter what the outcome is, but it won’t be the same unless it’s all three because we knew how hard not only each other but we pushed each other as a group,” Jorns said.

Although each girl had a lot of experience heading into the tryout, officials say making a collegiate cheer team is not an easy task.

“We went through rounds of standing tumbling, running tumbling, stunting was the biggest aspect and the thing we put the most time into... was so many hours of stunting videos to send to them,” Jorns said.

Unlike some other sports, Opheim says cheerleading is unique in the way athletes are recruited.

“Instead of just being able to offer them a position, I deal with them for three years and then they have to be able to bring it over the course of one weekend. So that’s how difficult it is to make college cheerleading,” Opheim said.

During their time at Oak Grove, the girls won three state championship titles, which is another accomplishment that is not easily achieved.

“We learn our routines in June…,” said Ashley Burdine, Oak Grove High School cheer coach. “They work every day after school for hours spending time perfecting their routines…”

However, the moment they found out they made the team, all the work became worth it.

“We all just found out and started screaming,” Woolbright said.

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