Cheer Cats land Dade’s Whitney Craig

On hand to see Dade County cheerleader Whitney Craig (seated, center) sign on with the Georgia Northwestern Cheer Cats were (front row, from left) Dade County assistant cheer coach Becky Goff and Dade County head cheer coach Josh Hurst. On the back row is Georgia Northwestern head cheer coach Karen Stoker. (Messenger photo/Scott Herpst)

If Whitney Craig's signing day was any indication, the new Georgia Northwestern Cheer Cat may have her own personal cheering section at Bobcat basketball games next season.

The highly-likeable and effervescent Dade County senior was showered with hugs and happy tears from friends and cheer squad teammates before and after she signed on with Coach Karen Stoker's Cheer Cats in a recent ceremony.

"I had the opportunity to scout Whitney as a basketball cheerleader and we expect great things from her," Stoker said. "She's a perfect example of a perfect spirit cheerleader. She has lots of energy and a beautiful smile. Her motions are spot-on and her jumps are great. I was particularly impressed with her pike and hurdler. Her stunting abilities are off the chart.

"During tryouts, she main-based an assisted one-man, with a press to extension and a full-down. It just seemed effortless. Whitney controlled the stunt very well. Her strength is amazing and will play a huge role in the stunts we perform."

Craig, a cheerleader since sixth grade, said she was thrilled to know she would get to keep cheering in college.

"It means a lot to me because it means I get to pursue something I've done for a long time," she explained. "Cheerleading is my passion. I just love it and I'm excited that I get to keep doing it after high school. If cheerleading is as great in college as it is in high school, then I'm ready for it."

"I'm ambitious and out-going and I think being a part of the team is going to be amazing," she continued. "I love making new friends and I can't wait to make new ones with my new team as we all do something we love together. My coach had told me a lot about the (Cheer Cats) program. He told how great it was and how the nice the coaches are and that really drew me to it."

"She's a four-year varsity cheerleader and just a great kid," said Dade County head cheer coach Josh Hurst, who also had Craig in class as a student. "She has the biggest heart of anybody out there and she always has a smile on her face. She's very athletic. She's always the first one to show up, the last one to leave and she wants to make everything as perfect as it can be, in class and in athletics.

"I've got a special place in my heart for her. She asked me to escort her during Homecoming last year, so I'm seriously sad to see her leave."

Stoker said she thinks Craig will be a leader for her squad.

"With only one cheer-athlete returning from this (past) season, having a ready-made leader is important," the coach added, "Whitney truly has a passion for cheering. She will be a tremendous asset to both our spirit and competition cheer teams."

Craig said she plans to major in Early Childhood Education.