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Cheerleaders, Pioneerettes return

It was all smiles for the Pioneerettes in their return to Charlie Dalton Gym Monday (Painted Barn Media)

It’s a chant heard several times a night from the WCHS cheerleaders at Charlie Dalton Gym. Only this time, it served as a way to distract opposing shooters and explain their feelings about their month-long absence from the sidelines.

When thinking about being able to support the basketball teams, Warren County’s cheerleaders, M – I – S --- S – I – T --- MISS IT!

With Gov. Bill Lee’s Executive Order revoked and Director of Schools Grant Swallows giving the green light, the WCHS cheerleader, Pioneerettes and many season ticket holders didn’t have to miss any more Warren County games. They were in attendance Monday night.

Doors opened again for home games, albeit again with limited capacity. Swallows announced last week that Warren County gyms could again open at 1/3 capacity, which meant 600 fans got to take in Monday’s victory by the Pioneers and solid effort by the Lady Pioneers in a loss to state-ranked Coffee County.

Nobody was happier than the cheerleaders and Pioneerettes. They were banished from the baseline in early December when the Governor signed an order to limit attendance to players, refs, coaches, media, game personnel and immediate family. It was a long wait to get back, but they enjoyed every second of their return Monday.

“I was super excited to be on the court for my senior year and get to support my senior friends. It was really exciting,” said senior cheer captain Rachel Grissom.

Senior Rachel Grissom loved being back on the floor Monday.

Fellow senior cheerleader Annabelle Miller agreed, saying, “I’ve been disappointed that we haven’t been able to be here much, but I’m super excited to be here tonight. I love supporting my team.”

Senior Pioneerette Kataen Shockley added, “As dancers, this is part of what we do. Not getting to do this just felt like a missing part, especially as seniors. We were all so excited. When we heard the news, it was the same day we heard we were going to get to go to Nationals. It was an exciting day – we were all screaming and crying.”

Patience from the cheerleaders and Pioneerettes have been tested over the last seven weeks. They wanted to be back in front of the crowd, cheering on the Pioneers and Lady Pioneers and performing their routines that were crafted over months of hard work in the summer.

It was tough for their coaches to see the disappointment on their team’s faces over the hiatus, but it was a blessing to see them all light up Monday night.

“I’m so excited for them. They work so hard and this is the only time they get to do something for people,” said Pioneerette coach Penny Shockley. “Just being back and being able to entertain crowd (is great) – there is just nothing better than a Pioneer crowd.

“We hope the crowd is as happy to see us as we are to be in front of them. I cried happy tears last Thursday when we received the email from Mr. Swallows that he approved us to go to Nationals. Then we got the news from the Governor. It was a day of tears and happiness.”

The same could be said for the cheerleaders, according to team sponsor Monty Childers.

“The girls have been asking for the last month, ‘When is it going to happen?’ They wanted to email the Governor – whatever it took to get out there,” said Childers Monday night. “They feel like their job is very important during the game. They want to cheer the boys and ladies on. It’s a fun time being back here – they love every second of it.”




The WCHS basketball cheerleaders are not a competition team, so their performances only come on game nights. The Pioneerettes, however, have been hopeful they could get back to competing. They got their wish last week when they go the go ahead from the administration to compete in Florida this month.

The team has been working hard behind the scenes, not knowing if they will be able to compete or show off their skills. On Monday, the Pioneerettes debuted to a buzzing crowd, dazzling with two halftime routines.

It was a great boost of confidence as the team prepares for its trip to Nationals.

“Coming out and being in front of the crowd – and not in front of a video camera – gave us a little more outgoing personality,” said senior Pioneerette Dante Grayson. “We wanted to show the crowd what we’ve been working on this entire time since we’ve been on break.

“We are very confident and passionate about what we do, so we just came out and showed it on the floor.”

Senior Kataen Shockley, center, is ready to compete in nationals for a fifth time (Painted Barn Media).

Grayson and Kataen Shockley both feel like this year’s group has a chance to do special things at Nationals. They’re very thankful Swallows and WCHS principal Clark George were supportive of their trip to Florida.

“I’ve been part of this team for five years and nationals is the goal you work for. They didn’t have to let us go – multiple schools aren’t getting to go. The fact they are trusting us enough to go out of state is an amazing opportunity. We’re so grateful,” said Shockley.

Grayson added, “Big thanks to Mr. Swallows and Mr. George for letting us do this. It’s amazing. We have big shoes to fill every year – we have to fill our team up with new people. I feel like this year is THE year. I’ve not felt this way (before) and I’ve been on the team for three years. This is my senior year and we came out with two great routines tonight.”

If the Pioneerettes can harness the same happiness they took the court with on Monday night, then it could be a special time in Florida. No matter what, there is a silver lining – they get to dance again in front of people.

That’s always something to cheer.

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