(Editor’s note: Throughout the local high school sports season, Culpeper Times will again recognize an âAthlete of the Weekâ from one of the sports on a rotating basis. This week we feature cheerleading. At the end of the year the Times will select a male and female athlete at both Culpeper County and Eastern View high schools and recognize them as âAthlete of the Yearâ at their respective schools.)
For Mady Thornton, cheerleading is a family heritage.
âI’ve been cheering since I was in diapers,â said Thornton, a junior at Eastern View High School. âMy mom was a cheerleader and she had me doing stuff really early. I started on a team when I was 5. Cheering has been my passion like forever.â
But Thornton is far from being self-absorbed with her cheer routines.
âI like to help everyone else as much as I can,â she said. âSince eighth grade I’ve been working with the Tarheel squad of the Culpeper Football Association on their cheers.â
Thornton’s coach at EVHS, Danielle Tardif, said Thornton is very good at what she does.
âShe’s definitely a top-notch talent,â Tardif said. âShe is one of the leaders on this team and she has even choreographed lots of our routines. She has the biggest heart of any girl out there.â
Tardif said that although she has not named captains for her squad, Thornton is one in actions if not title.
âWhen the other girls have questions they go to her,â Tardif said. âShe’s been on varsity since her freshman year and knows what needs to be doneâ
Some cheerleaders spend their career as bases, forming a solid foundation on which the other girls can climb to greater heights. Other cheerleaders are âflyers.â They’re the ones you see tossed in the air and being caught by their teammates. It is one of the most challenging and dangerous positions in sports and it takes a girl with both talent and courage. Thornton has both.
âI do like to fly, I like that the most,â she said. âBut I’ve been a base and I enjoy that, too. I’ll do whatever it takes to help the team.â
Tardif called Thornton a âtotal team player.â
Thornton cheers for football and basketball and is also on the competition team. She plays on the Cyclone softball team in the spring.
âI think I like competition cheering best,â she said. âIt has made me feel more confident getting out in front of a bunch of people.â
In the classroom, Thornton is a top-notch student. She said her favorite classes are AP history and English.
As for college, she plans to major in sports medicine.
âI’m looking at the University of Tennessee, George Mason and the University of North Carolina,â she said.
Note: Culpeper County High School cheerleading coach Dawn Hirte nominated senior Shelby Jenkins.
âShe has worked super hard to master the skills and she is an excellent floor leader,â said Hirte. âShe’s genuine and she has a great heart.â
Jenkins, who has been on the varsity team three years, also does football, basketball and competition cheering.
âThis is her first year as a captain and she has definitely earned it,â Hirte said.
âI like being with all the other girls and trying out new stuff,â said Jenkins of why she enjoys cheerleading. âI like the stunting and being a flyer, but I have the strength to do base.
âI’m a flyer again this year, which I haven’t done since 10th grade. All last year I based. When I have to perform I get a little nervous, but it’s those ‘I’ve got this’ kind of butterflies not nerves because I’m worried.â
In the spring Jenkins runs track â mostly the 300 hurdles and the high jump. She said her favorite class is science.
âIt is what I’m going to do â I want to be a veterinary technician,â she said. âSo I need lots of science classes.â
Jenkins said when she is not busy with school she enjoys spending time with family and friends. She also has a part-time job at Glory Days.