In honoring the seven senior cheerleaders who provided great leadership to the 2017 State Championship team, I was fascinated to learn of the different paths that brought them together this season. Below is a brief tribute to these seven, stellar cheer-team members and an overview of the paths they traveled to become teammates and state champions.
The Rock (Brinley Dotson)
Brinley Dotson is the only cheer team member who participated on the team during all four years of high school. She has been a steady influence for good on all her teammates with her positive outlook on life and genuine care and concern for others. One team member commented: “Brinley is unifying. She thinks of others all the time and is kind to everyone and accepting of all of us. She is the rock of the team who we all look up to, a person who can always make me smile and feel loved.” Brinley was a base all four years at Morgan. She plans to attend college next year, most likely at Utah Valley University or Southern Utah University. Brinley is also considering the possibility of serving a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The Transplant (Elly Montgomery)
Elly Montgomery is new to the cheer team. She cheered for Stansbury High School as a freshman and Pueblo County High School (Colorado) as a sophomore and junior. When it appeared her dad might take a job in Utah again, Elly tried out for Morgan’s team and made it. She moved to Mountain Green over the summer, registered for school and began practicing with the team, only to find out that her dad would not be landing a job in Utah after all. However, Elly stayed put; her mom remained in Utah with her; and her dad used all his vacation time and then some to visit the family as often as possible. Elly and her parents are confident that attending MHS during her senior year was the right move for her. This year, Elly changed positions from being a full-time flyer to being a mostly full-time base. She brought a fresh perspective to the team, having experienced different schools, coaches and teammates. After graduation, Elly plans to attend college. Her short list includes Utah State University, Southern Utah University and the University of Utah. She plans to pursue a career in the medical industry, possibly in nursing.
The Commuter (Kylee Nelson)
Kylee Nelson drives a little farther to Morgan each day than most students. Commuting from the friendly confines of South Weber, she braves the canyon each day in the winter. Kylee cheered in junior high and would have been a solid addition to the Northridge High School cheer team, but circumstances brought her to Morgan High instead, where she tried out as a sophomore and made the team. Over the years, she has proven to be an incredibly reliable base. One team member remarked: “Kylee is probably the strongest base we have. She can hold anyone up and you always feel secure having her in your stunt group.” Next year, Kylee plans to attend college at Utah State University, Utah Valley University or Weber State University. She is considering a career in athletic training or physical therapy.
The Determined: Overcoming Setbacks (Kate Jarrett, Alyssa Nelson, Hailey Green)
As an incoming freshman, Kate Jarrett was friends with a Trojan cheer team member who encouraged her to try out. The only problem was that tryouts were a month away. Inexperienced in all areas of cheer (tumbling, dancing, cheering, stunting), Kate tried desperately to learn as much as possible in the weeks leading up to tryouts. But her hopes were dashed; she was cut. “I wasn’t very good,” she said, “but I set a goal to get better and try again.” Determined, Kate spent almost every week the next year improving her skills at Pitcher’s Gym and practicing at home. The sacrifice paid off. As a sophomore, Kate impressed at tryouts and made the team. This season, she served as a back spot. Kate was named one of the top individual jumpers in the region and was a finalist in the state jump-off competition. Next year, Kate will attend Utah State University on a scholarship, with plans to attend medical school and to work as a radiologist.
Alyssa Nelson took tumbling lessons beginning at age 5 but stopped tumbling during her last two years of middle school. Then, one of her friends asked Alyssa to try out for cheer with her. The friend made it; Alyssa was cut despite her tumbling background. “Getting cut hurt a lot, but since I decided I wanted to cheer, I spent the next year off by myself trying to improve at Pitcher’s.” And improve she did. At the next tryout, Alyssa was offered a spot on the team. She has continued to learn and improve and was named team captain this season. Alyssa was a base in the same stunt group as Kate Jarrett—two “has-beens” that turned out to be “must-haves.” After high school, Alyssa is considering matriculating at Utah State University (on a scholarship). She plans to major in psychology or mathematics and is also holding open the possibility of serving an LDS mission.
Hailey Green may have the most compelling story of overcoming adversity. Prior to high school, she tumbled on a competitive team and had hopes of cheering in high school. But she was cut twice from the cheer team. Her first disappointment came as a freshman, when her friends made it and she was sent home. However, toward the end of her freshman year, she was invited to join the team the last couple months of the season. Since things were looking positive, Hailey tried out as a sophomore, only to be cut again. As a consolation, she was invited to be the cheer team manager. “I was crushed. I worked so hard and now I was feeling really down on myself. I wanted to say ‘no’ to being the manager since I knew the team didn’t need me, but for some reason I went ahead and did it. At summer camp, I sat and watched my friends learn the routines since I wasn’t allowed to perform. It was painful.” Inexplicably, however, Hailey was offered a spot on the team after the summer camp, where she became a flyer for the team. Hailey has worked hard, often training outside of practice with college cheerleaders. Her patience, determination and hard work paid off when she was named to the 2017 Utah All-State Cheer Team. Hailey is mulling over the possibility of cheering in college and plans to attend Dixie State. She is considering a career in the FBI or law enforcement.
The Outside Hitter
Gwen Yorgason is the other senior who is new to the cheer team. Her path to cheer was most unexpected. In her younger years, Gwen played volleyball as much as possible. “My dream was to win a state volleyball championship.” That dream gained momentum when Gwen made the freshman volleyball team at MHS. However, she was cut from the team as a sophomore. “I had a total identity loss. Volleyball was my life. Suddenly, I had nothing to do.” The pain she felt continued throughout her sophomore year. Since she had danced in her younger years, she decided to try out for the drill team as a junior and become involved in extracurricular activities again. Impressing the coaches, she made the Troyettes and performed regularly. The team went through a period of adversity, however, and some of her friends quit the team during the middle of the season. “It wasn’t the experience I hoped for.” One thing Gwen knew was that “Morgan cheer is a special thing, and with one year left, I knew I wanted to be part of it.” Without prior stunting experience, Gwen nevertheless tried out for cheer and impressed with her dancing and tumbling abilities. She made the team and was a back spot. She remarked: “My dream came true. I was part of a championship team and wouldn’t trade this experience for anything.” Next year, Gwen plans to attend the University of Utah or Southern Utah University, where she is considering trying out for a dance team and plans to major in environmental sciences.
Congrats to the senior cheerleaders, their teammates and coaches for a spectacular and award-filled season!!! Best wishes going forward.