In this edition of Reed Between the Lines: Grafton Lady Bearcats Assistant Cheerleading Coach Alyssa Duckworth
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I have been coaching cheer for three years and also coached middle school Dance Line at TCMS. I was a Mannington Gator for two seasons, and now I’m happy to be back in my hometown coaching the Bearcats! I teach 6th grade at TCMS, and love being back where I went to middle school and high school!
When and why did you start coaching cheerleading?
I cheered my whole high school career and immediately knew this is something I wanted to be a part of for the rest of my life. When my little sister’s middle school team needed a coach, I knew it was where I was going to get my start. I was a junior and senior in college when I started coaching and it called for a lot of long hours of studying and choreographing a routine.
What do you say to people who don’t believe that cheerleading is a sport?
I’d invite them to one of our competition practices or to come watch a competition. These athletes must use a specific set of skills and training to be able to perform competition routines without getting hurt.
What is the most bizarre question you have ever been asked by someone about cheerleading?
“Why do you practice for so long?” We have many different elements that go into a routine that that take long hours to master.
What is one rule change that you’d most like to see happen within your sport?
MATS! West Virginia is behind the times with cheerleading. Our athletes are still performing on hardwood. Athletes that go to compete after high school will not perform on hardwood, so we are doing them a disservice by keeping it on hardwood. A lot of skills are illegal on hardwood but with mats are legal.
What are your best and worst memories in athletics?
My best memory would be my freshman year when we won 3rd place at Regionals (although we should have placed 1st!) My worst memory would be injuring my shoulder my senior year and having to sit out for two weeks!
If you could be a successful coach in any other sport, what would you choose and why?
Basketball. Basketball has been a part of my life longer than cheerleading, so it will always have a piece of my life. Now I get to watch my uncle, Andrew Moore, coach the Lady ‘Cats.
What one word or phrase do you think describes you?
“Positive.” You can’t change a lot of things you’re dealt in life, but you can change your attitude about those cards.
What is your favorite movie about sports?
Bring It On. Duh.
What should we expect out of the GHS cheerleading squad next season?
We are buckling down and heading to states next year. We aren’t losing any seniors this year on competition squad, so we are hoping to move that 3rd place at Regionals to 1st or 2nd.
What qualities make a good cheerleader?
Leadership, trustworthiness, and determination.
What is one thing you always do after your team performs a solid routine?
Cry usually. Our athletes work so hard and put in long hours, so it’s always emotional when they hit!
You get to spend the day with anyone (past or present), who do you choose and why?
This answer has changed recently, but Simone Biles. She has changed the way the world sees gymnastics and is an amazing athlete. I admire how well she competes with herself and always pushes to exceed her own expectations.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Hopefully, continuing to build Grafton High School cheer by adding cheerleading resources into Grafton and giving back to the community.
What do you think you do well as a coach?
I think my positive attitude and patience with our athletes is one of my best qualities.
What do you think you need to work on as a coach?
Letting the athletes take some responsibility and trusting them to give feedback and suggestions!
Where is your favorite away venue to coach and why?
RCB. Their gym is beautiful, and they have wonderful facilities.
Give me one word or phrase to describe your current head coach, Chatera Morris.
Determined and caring. She really loves what she does and loves her athletes. I’m so excited to continue our journey into coaching together!
What would you say to someone who really doesn’t understand a cheerleading competition?
Competition isn’t really about you hitting and everyone else falling or messing up their routines. Yes, we want to win, but cheerleading is more about supporting each other. We want all teams to feel and be successful and let the best (and most difficult) routine win. If you come to one competition, you will understand that it’s just a different type of atmosphere than most sporting events.
What did you think of these questions?
Great questions! I enjoyed the challenge of answering some of them.
*Each week the Mountain Statesman features a coach, player or personality from Taylor County. We hope you enjoy the chance to learn a little bit more about them.