When it came to take on challenges, this one was a bit different.
You watch Canton’s Jadyn Ayres cheer and you can see her athleticism.
Watch her soar through the sky, and look at all her medals for competition cheer. Check out how she was at the Prestigious Big 33 Football Classic as one of the Pennsylvania cheerleaders.
So, I tried to do a couple jumps like Jadyn does.
And, I jumped, I tried, and I looked nothing like Jadyn in the air.
For Ayres this all started about a half a dozen years ago.
“I started cheer when I was in sixth grade,” Ayres said. “I did Tenacity Cheer, that was really fun, then my parents decided to move me to Elmira, then to Selinsgrove.”
When Ayres was little she had danced, and she joined the list of many cheerleaders with dance, or gymnastics, backgrounds.
“They mostly all come from the same things,” she said. “It was an easy switch, then you had to learn the cheer way to do it. I had to learn how to jump like they do it.”
One of the biggest takeaways from attempting to jump is the soreness that comes from the sport.
“We stretch a lot in warm-ups before and our coaches have to do it repetitively so our bodies get used to it by the time the competition season comes around, we aren’t as sore anymore,” Ayres said.
From the outside many people don’t realize the work it takes to be a competitive cheerleader, and Ayres thinks they would be surprised if they saw it.
“I think they would be surprised,” she said. “A lot of people think it’s super easy and everyone can do it. If they really looked at how many times I’m in the gym, we all are in the gym, they would see it’s not easy.”
Part of the stereotype with cheer is that people see it portrayed in TV or movies, or they see sporting events at schools with a handful of girls in the stands cheering.
There is a big difference between that and high level competitions for cheer.
“It’s extremely different and I wish everyone could see that,” Ayres said. “The stuff we do doesn’t compare to a high school basketball game. It’s crazy to watch.
“Sometimes it gets frustrating, we just keep trying to do what we do and hope other people see it like we do.”
And, when her friends have seen what she does, they quickly understood.
“My best friend, Taylor Gilbert, actually came all the way to Atlantic City to watch me in a competition and she was blown away by what we do,” Ayres said.
“People see what I do, what I post on Instagram and on my Snap Chat stories, and I think they start to realize it.”
Even when she started Ayres wasn’t really aware of how intense the sport could be.
“When I first started I was a little Warriorette, I did that before all-star,” Ayers said. “I just loved performing. I knew there was competitions and stuff, but I didn’t know how intense it could get. Where I am now, it’s just amazing, I don’t know how to explain it.”
Now, Ayres is starting to look at colleges to compete at in the future.
“I am just trying to look at opportunities and take them as they come and hope it turns out like I want,” Ayres said. “I’m just looking at all the schools and looking at their cheer teams and you have to decide the difference, all-girl, co-ed, basketball, football, there are a ton of different types of cheerleading and I have to make sure it’s the one I’m looking for.”
One of the challenges is that many top cheer schools are out of state, but for Ayres that’s not something that bothers here.
“Luckily I want to move south, so I’m hoping to get a head start on it and go to college down there, but my family probably doesn’t want me to do that.
“It’s hard, because I want to stay here and want to be with my friends, but I know I love the south and I go down there with my cousin a lot and it’s just so nice down there. I think my parents would be okay with it.”
One challenge this year for Ayres will be balancing her life, and cheer, especially with long travel to practices.
“The hard part about it is it’s two hours away my practices,” Ayres said. “This year I have been driving all by myself, but when my parents drove I could do my homework in the car. I know I had to do my AP Bio a lot in the car. I just need to learn better time management because I’m getting home at 11 and getting up at 6:30.”
While she thinks about her future, and balances school and cheer, there are things Ayres is trying to improve on in the sport.
“I want to get a new skill called a full,” she said. “It’s like a twisting layout basically. I have been working on that, and I just want to grow as an all-around athlete.”