The traditional Christmas phrase “be of good cheer” has some extra significance for one local family this year, considering their son’s talent as a cheerleader.
Young Garrick McGee, age 11, son of Gordon, Jr. and Janet McGee of McMinnville, was one of more than 350 elementary, junior high and high school cheerleaders from across the country that recently performed in the UCA/UDA Thanksgiving Tour at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Fla., over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Making the experience truly unique for Garrick was discovering he was one of only three male cheerleaders to participate in the Disney World event. Garrick was chosen, along with his two fellow male cheerleaders, to lead the pre-parade festivity down the Disney World parade route lined with thousands of spectators.
Dad Gordon Jr. says he is proud of Garrick’s accomplishments and his work ethic.
“I am so excited for him,” Gordon said. “He’s actually taken me by surprise with all that he’s done with this. I feel like he has broken glass ceilings and dad just smiles, because he’s one of the only boys that are out there most of the time.”
Gordon says cheerleading is a physically demanding activity, and Garrick is already performing strength moves like lifts and tumbling. In fact, his interest in cheerleading may have developed out of his interest in gymnastics.
“He’s amazing, the athleticism that he shows that goes into it,” Gordon said. “He’s been in cheering for a little over a year, and he’s been doing gymnastics for a couple or years. He’s been over here at Tressie Hitchcock’s place doing cheer and gymnastics, and he has been doing really well with it.”
Gordon says Garrick wants to continue with the activity and he supports that, particularly since Garrick plans to get good enough to help pay for his schooling.
“He wants to do it in college,” Gordon said. “And hopes to get a scholarship and go to school on that. He went to a clinic at MTSU and he was the only male cheerleader that was there, so he had a lot of one on one instruction. There were three male cheerleaders who were instructors who worked with him and had him do single base lifts. They had this one girl that worked with them at the clinic and they had him do lifts with her. He’s a strong boy.”
The individuals invited to perform in the parade were part of a select group of cheerleaders chosen as All-Americans during Universal Cheerleaders Association (UCA) summer camps across the country. The All Americans were selected via tryout based on either superior cheerleading or dance skills. Only the top 12 percent of the cheerleaders and dancers from UCA or UDA camps earn the chance to march in a holiday parade of this caliber. Being selected for such an event is a great honor and a once in a lifetime opportunity to excel in the athletic world of extreme cheer.
Garrick attended the UCA summer camp held at Middle Tennessee State University with Tressie’s Gymnastics and Warren County All-Star Extreme Cheerleading. He has been participating in gymnastics for over two years and recently began performing cheerleading as an athletic base team stunt member. A base team member assists in the safety and execution of extreme athletic stunts performed in today’s extreme cheerleading activities, which includes tumbling, acrobatics and stunting.