Many high school cheerleaders can attest to the grueling process it takes to be among the few that make a collegiate cheer squad, but Columbia Academy seniors Victoria Pace and Madelyn Johnson made the cut and will cheer on the Southern Miss sidelines in the fall.
Pace said they had to undergo a two-day tryout in April that put them to the test to see if they had what it takes.
“It was really hard. It was two straight days of work,” she said. “It was so hard but worth it.”
Pace said it’s both exciting and nerve-racking to have the opportunity to don the Vegas gold and black in Hattiesburg.
“I had always thought about it and thought about cheering but never knew for sure. But now that it’s here, I’m so excited for it,” she said.
For Johnson, it was the realization of a goal she has been chasing for a long time.
“I’m just really excited because I’ve put in a lot of hard work for this. I’ve always wanted to do this, and now that I don’t have to stress about it anymore and I’ve finally made it that I just feel so much better,” she said. “I’m proud of never stopping and staying with it.”
Johnson and Pace found out they had made the team after checking a list that had been taped to the door of the Reed Green Coliseum and matched their tryout numbers to the ones on the list.
“Me and Madelyn were so excited,” Pace said. “We went out to eat that night. It was crazy. It was relieving after so much hard work. I went and slept the whole next day.”
“You build up so much for it then when you made it, it was just like finally,” Johnson added. “I was so pumped. It was finally real.”
Johnson said she’s most excited to cheer at the football games and experience the Eagle Walk prior to taking the field.