Cheyenne Strait signs with GNTC

In attendance at Ridgeland High School on Wednesday to watch senior cheerleader Cheyenne Strait (seated, center) sign on with the Georgia Northwestern Cheer Cats were Amber Winesburgh and Savannah Kelley. Cheer Cats coach Karen Stoker, Ridgeland assistant coach Caroline Yarbrough, Ridgeland head coach Abby Manus and Cheer Cats assistant coach Kristi Thomas. (Messenger photo/Scott Herpst)

The Georgia Northwestern Cheer Cats have gone a year without a having a former Ridgeland High School cheerleader on their roster.

That was remedied on Wednesday as senior Cheyenne Strait signed on to become the newest member of the Cheer Cats squad.

"Today I'm furthering my career as a college cheerleader and I'm really excited," said Strait, who has been cheering for the last eight years. "I'm always happy and I'm always in a great mood. I like to encourage people so, hopefully, I will be a supporter for everyone else."

Cheer Cats head coach Karen Stoker said she was really taken with Strait's "true passion for cheerleading."

"That passion and spirit of cheerleading is what makes Cheyenne a positive fit for our program," Stoker said, referencing Strait's senior project as an example. "She organized and carried out a cheer clinic for younger girls with an interest in cheering. The money she raised is going to to the 2017-2018 (Ridgeland) program to be used by a cheerleader who may not be able to pay for all of their cheer equipment. She has a big heart and wants to give back to a program that has meant so much to her."

Ridgeland cheer coach Abby Manus said Strait has already left her legacy on the program.

"The Ridgeland cheerleaders are so excited for Cheyenne to sign," Manus said. "She is without a doubt one of the hardest workers that I have ever had the chance of knowing. In my past two years as a coach, she has matured and grown into a wonderful young lady and she has balanced school, cheer, and work since Day One.

"I have always trusted that she would do her job when it came to cheerleading and she has gained new skills and showed so much heart in the Ridgeland Cheerleading program. Now she is signing to cheer in college and I could not be more proud of her than I am right now."

Stoker said Strait already possessed an outstanding skill set, pointing out that she scored 150 out of a possible 155 in her tryout score.

"Her motions were tight, her voice was controlled, yet peppy and she demonstrated lots of energy," Stoker explained. "This energy flowed right over into the dance, which was fluid and well thought out. Her smile let you know that she was having fun.

"Her athleticism allows her to really show off when it comes to jumps and tumbling. Her technique and form were perfect and her jumps had incredible height. She did a standing back handspring and later executed a round-off, followed by multiple back hand springs and made it look easy."

"She has been a base for Ridgeland, but she decided to try another stunt position for her tryout. As a flyer, her stunts were almost perfect. I feel that we are getting a very versatile athlete. Her leadership skills will also be a plus for us as we head into next season with only one returner."

Strait said she wants to one day become a special education teacher.