Pounders leading ACCS cheer squad
NATCHEZ — Leah Pounders has a background as a high school cheerleader and a competitive cheer coach.
So when Adams County Christian School came asking her to lead this year’s varsity cheerleading squad, Pounders was more than comfortable lending the girls her time and energy.
And the results paid off — the ACCS girls placed high in several competitions at cheerleading camp June 14-17 in Gulf Shores, Ala. The positive reinforcement reminded Pounders of why she enjoys being around cheerleading so much, she said.
“I love the atmosphere and the spirit,” Pounders said. “It’s such a happy sport, and I think that’s why I like it so much. It’s so uplifting, not just for (the girls), but for the crowd as well.”
Pounders, a nurse at Adams County Correctional Center, moved to Natchez this past year and got involved at First Baptist Church, where she met several members of the ACCS cheerleading squad.
“I happened to mention that, if they needed my help, I was there,” Pounders said.
Soon afterward, Pounders was asked to lead the varsity squad, which she said she was more than happy to accept. After getting to know the girls, Pounders said she doesn’t regret the decision one bit.
“They’re a very hard-working, very trustworthy group,” Pounders said. “If I set a time for practice, I can depend on them to be there and do what they’re supposed to do.”
Cheer captain Lauren King, a rising senior at ACCS, also said she’s been impressed with the squad’s work ethic since tryouts ended in March.
“We’re all hard workers, and we all work together, and we really bonded at camp,” King said. “I think we’ll shock people — I think we’ll be way better than people are expecting.”
So far, the squad is off to a good start. At cheer camp, they placed first in the cheer and game day competitions and second in the home pom and sideline competitions. ACCS competed against nine other varsity squads at the camp.
“More than anything, I think they were proud of themselves,” Pounders said. “That just makes me feel like I accomplished something (as a coach) — not so much because they came home with trophies, but because they were proud of themselves.”
King said the top finishes were a reflection of the group’s dedication, going all the way back to March.
“I think it was really important (to do well),” King said. “It shows how well we work together and how much we learned and how hard we worked. We were going against a lot of squads — we’re not used to big camps like that, and it just felt good to place so high.”
Spending time together at the beach also gave her squad a chance to bond as a group, Pounders said. She also said the girls are very good at encouraging one another.
“We pray at the end of every practice, and we try to build each other up,” Pounders said. “We really try to drive home those points about being positive and not letting the negative get to you.”
ACCS’s varsity squad consists of 14 active cheerleaders, as well as Blair Lee, who is recovering from a four-wheeler accident in March that left her in a coma for four days and forced her to spend 13 weeks in the hospital. Katie Russ is co-captain of the squad.