CHEERLEADING: Shanen Croft become first Cheer Cat from Trion High

On hand to celebrate with Shanen Croft (seated, center) were Darrell and Angela Croft. On the back row is Trion High School’s Jason Lanham, Trion High School Principal Bryan Edge, Trion High School cheer coach Kelly Vireze, Trion High School cheer coach Jordan Durden, Georgia Northwestern cheer coach Karen Stoker and Trion High School cheer coach Pam Bridges. (Photo by Scott Herpst)

The Trion High School cheerleading program has been one of the best in northwest Georgia and one of the best in the state over the past decade with five Class 1A state titles and several other top five showings to its credit.

But the Blue-and-White had never had a cheerleader go on to join the squad at nearby Georgia Northwestern Technical College…until Tuesday.

In front of family, friends and her entire THS cheer squad, Shanen Croft signed her letter of intent to join the one-time national champion Cheer Cats, becoming the first Trion cheerleader to try out and make the squad.

“It means a lot,” the senior said. “I just had knee surgery three months ago and I could barely walk. Now I’m back cheering, which I didn’t think I’d be able to do so soon, so it really does mean the world to me right now. It’s exciting and a little intimidating. There’s just a bunch of emotions.”

Like most cheerleaders, Croft has been leading the cheers since she was a young girl. She was donning cheerleader outfits while watching older siblings play in rec league games before she was even old enough to become an official rec league cheerleader herself.

“I think my first year of rec cheerleading was about age five or six and I’ve stuck with (cheerleading) ever since,” she said. “I don’t think I’ve missed a year.”

Cheer Cats head coach Karen Stoker said she was “extremely thrilled” to add Croft to the squad for the 2018-2019 season, adding that her newest recruit brings leadership and dedication to the team.

“One of the first things that drew me to her is her true passion for cheerleading,” Stoker said. “That passion for the sport and the spirit of (cheerleading) is what makes her a positive fit for our program.

“She’ll be a strong sideline cheerleader for us, as well as an excellent base in stunting. Her positive attitude is unsurpassed and her dance skills are unmatched.”

Stoker said Croft’s official Cheer Cat tryout was strong.

“Her cheers and chants were marked by sharp motions, tight fists and lots of energy,” the coach continued. “Her dance was cute and well-executed with great motions, flow and energy. Her smile will really draw the crowd’s attention.”

Trion cheer coach Kelly Vireze called Croft “a wonderful girl”.

“She works hard, 110 percent of the time and she’s a leader, without question,” Vireze explained. “She knows what she’s doing and she gets in there and does it. You don’t have to ask her to do anything.

“Personally, she’s just a kind-hearted young lady. She worries about her teammates and she makes sure that things are the way they are supposed to be.”

“I have a really good leadership quality about me,” Croft added. “It’s just easy for me and I just like people, a lot. I think that’s a good quality for a cheerleader to have.”

Croft plans to study Physical Therapy.