BAKER — Baker School's varsity cheerleaders have earned the opportunity to perform during the Capital One Bowl on New Year's Day in Orlando.
The Capital One Bowl matches the top post-Bowl Championship Series, or BCS, selections from the Southeastern Conference and the Big Ten Conference.
“It’s exciting … the cheerleaders have worked so hard,” cheerleading coach Nita Springle said. “I couldn’t be more proud of them than I already am.”
This is the first time, in Baker cheerleading history, that the team has been asked to perform at a college football championship game, Springle said.
The Universal Cheerleaders Association, which organized a week-long cheerleading camp in July at the school, sent the invitation.
After seeing Baker's cheerleaders perform, a UCA representative invited the team for a pregame appearance at the Florida Citrus Bowl Stadium.
“I was really shocked because Baker is such a small school; I thought we would never have this opportunity,” senior Samantha Gunter, 17, said.
Gunter is one of four cheerleaders named All-American by the UCA. Fellow All-American cheerleader, Carson Martello, 15, said she is excited about the opportunity.
“We have never had an opportunity like this,” she said.
Baker School's team includes first-time cheerleaders, like Danielle Holloway, 17, who said "cheering has been like a family.”
Allison Ramsey, 17, who serves as team captain with Gunter, said the squad's bond is special.
“We are very close and opinionated,” she said.
The team uses those opinions to their benefit, Ramsey said.
“It’s all an idea-based team; we are all in it together,” she said.
The week-long trip to Orlando will cost around $12,000, Springle said.
Fundraisers, including car washes, bagging groceries and other events, are already underway to send nine of the 12 cheerleaders.
Three squad members have prior commitments for the holiday break, Springle said.
“We are going to do anything we can (to raise funds),” Springle said. “Whatever we don’t fundraise the parents have said they would come up with (the rest).”