Editors note: This story is part of a series about high school cheerleading programs in Houston and Peach counties.Jennifer Mashburn is in her first year as head coach for the Perry High School cheerleading program. But she is not new to coaching a cheer team.
Mashburn was formerly the cheerleading coach at Perry Middle School -- a position that gives her an advantage since she is now coaching at Perry High with some of her former team members.
It is a little easier because I dont have to start relationships with the ones I coached before. I can just build on the relationships we already have, said Mashburn.
Another thing that makes her job easier, Mashburn said, is the level of skill the cheerleaders arrive with at the school.
We have a lot of talent that comes to us from Perry Middle and the other middle schools that feed Perry High School, Mashburn said. We try to build on that and improve and just get better throughout the season.
Perry High Schools cheer program is unique in the county for several reasons. Perrys competitive team includes boys and girls and competes in the co-ed division at sectionals. Out of the 18 cheerleaders on the competition team, four are boys.
Their tumbling comes into play just like any other cheerleader, Mashburn said. They are there to assist with pyramids and give the team that extra umph in strength that guys have. They back spot for us a lot, and it is very helpful to have a guy back there with all their strength.
Also unusual is that the program does not have a junior varsity squad attached to it. At Perry, there are two teams, a competitive team and game team. Mashburn said the junior varsity squad was phased out several years ago.
While the competitive and game teams have specific duties and responsibilities, Mashburn said that come Perry football game day, each team is equally responsible for school spirit.
Mashburn praised her assistant coaches and said that she relies heavily on them -- Loreal Jordan and Tony Morris for the game squad and Curt Gentry for the competitive team.
After finishing in first place in a competition at McIntosh High School in Peachtree City, Perry is looking ahead to the sectionals. Co-ed teams are a little different. Their sectionals are held on the same day as regional, and the top 16 teams at sectionals move on to the state competition.
Contact Alline Kent at 396-2467 or firstname.lastname@example.org.