When it comes to being recruited for college athletics, athletes are told to always do their best because one never knows who might be watching.
And Jason Wanzel is the latest example.
The 2020 LFO graduate, who has cheered for Hot Shots All-Stars in Fort Oglethorpe for the past five years, will be heading on to Limestone College in South Carolina this fall to join their squad after recently receiving a scholarship.
“A lot of people have been asking me if I’m nervous, but I’m not really nervous at all,” Wanzel explained. “I’m super excited because it’s a new experience for me. I’ve never cheered school before. I’ve always cheered All-Stars, but I’m super excited about it and I got a scholarship and everybody loves that.”
Hot Shots owner Mindy Poindexter explained that Limestone assistant coach Chad Butler, who previously coached at Hot Shots in Rome and helped out at Hot Shots in Fort Oglethorpe, saw Jason’s cheering and tumbling skills on a Hot Shots Facebook page video. Poindexter said the coach sent a message, saying he was interested in having Wanzel join the Limestone team.
“It all just worked out,” she said.
“I had a competition on the day they were having a clinic, so he asked me to come practice with them and I did,” Wanzel recalled. “I just love the environment down there. I just love (how) everybody is so positive. They just accepted me as soon as I came in and I just love the attitude of Limestone Cheerleading.”
Wanzel said he believes his skills will translate well to a college program.
“I’m an elite skill tumbler and I’ve been back-spotting for three of the five years (of cheering All-Stars), so I’m really good at that,” he added. “I’ll be able to bring energy, confidence and positivity to the team too.”
Poindexter said Wanzel’s departure would leave a big void at Hot Shots on several levels.
“He coached for us,” she began. “He teaches tumbling classes. He’s helped choreograph routines. He cheered on our Level 5 team for three years. He’s an amazing athlete, a great tumbler and he’s a really good kid. He’s very reliable, which is sometimes hard to come by with teenagers. We lucked up hiring him and we’re really proud of him.”
Wanzel said he plans to major in Business Management. His future plans include becoming a choreographer for cheer and to one day open his own cheer gym.
Limestone, an up-and-coming cheer program in NCAA Division II, has qualified for NCA Nationals in Daytona Beach every year since 2016 and had its highest-ever finish in April 2019 with a fourth-place showing in the Small Coed Division II category.
This past August, the Saints had two All-Americans and earned their first-ever Gold Bid to Nationals. They were to have competed back in April, but the competition was cancelled due to the coronavirus outbreak.
Limestone, a private university in Gaffney, S.C., officially joined the South Atlantic Conference on July 1 after 22 years as a member of Conference Carolinas.