Walker back doing what she loves
When Kenzie Walker got to college, something was missing. She loved being at Tennessee Tech but she missed the joy of spreading school spirit and the bonds formed as a team. Walker had to get back into cheering.
As a sophomore, Walker made sure she got back to doing what she loves. She joined the Tennessee Tech cheer team, rekindling her passion for the sport she has been doing for over a decade.
“I have been cheering for 11 years now,” said Walker, one of three former WCHS cheerleaders who were on the Tech cheer team this school year. “I have always wanted to cheer in college and coach (Stacey) Elam pushed me to accomplish that goal of mine after taking a year off.”
Walker was always a standout cheerleader, dating back to the days when she was winning national championships with Warren Energy. She continued her athletic career through high school, studying under coach Elam and always working toward a big goal with her girls – a national title.
She still has a deep appreciation for the sport, one that grew stronger when she was without it for a year. The only drawback in college so far has been the inability to compete for titles.
“I like cheering in college, but I loved cheering in high school. My high school team always had an end goal, which was winning nationals,” said Walker. “Since COVID, this season has been like any other. We did not have an opportunity to prepare and attend UCA College Nationals. I have missed that aspect in college cheerleading.”
It didn’t stop Walker from getting the attention of the UCA though. She landed a summer gig with the Universal Cheerleaders Association, something she found out last month and hasn’t stopped celebrating yet.
“My favorite moment (in college) was making UCA staff for this summer. Cheering at the collegiate level has opened opportunities I never thought I’d get,” said Walker.
Along with taking her cheering to the highest level, she also got to reunite with old teammates this season. Deryn Allen and Abby Reagan were with Walker this season, bringing the trio back together in uniform for the first time since Walker graduated in 2019.
It may not have been in the red, white and blue, but Walker loved having her old friends – and some great new ones – with her in the purple and gold.
“I was very excited to finally cheer with Deryn and Abby again at Tech. Even though I made friends on the cheer team, it was nice to have them there too,” said Walker.
A year ago, it may not have seemed possible. Walker was away from the sport, but it never left her heart. She continued to talk about getting into college cheer, something her former coach wouldn’t let her forget about. Walker is thankful coach Elam always made sure she was pushing to get to the highest level.
“Coach Elam really helped me prepare to cheer in college. She always pushed us to be our best. I wouldn’t be cheering at Tech if it wasn’t for her,” said Walker.
Kenzie Walker has advanced to TTU cheer after years of success at WCHS.
Now that she’s back in the game, she isn’t going to slow down. Walker plans to continue with cheer – including with the UCA, Tech and perhaps coaching in the future. At some point, she would like to return to the sidelines at events as well.
The Tech cheerleaders were spread out in the stands at football and basketball games this season – “It doesn’t allow us to perform a lot of our collegiate skills,” noted Walker. It even held back the cheerleaders from doing a lot of their campus events, something Walker was also looking forward to doing this season.
“One of the perks of cheering at Tech is getting the opportunity to be more involved in the campus itself. With COVID, sadly, we haven’t been able to have a lot of spirit events,” said Walker. “However, I have enjoyed being part of the program and the experience of cheering at a higher level.
“I am just fortunate that we have been able to participate in some aspects of Tech athletics.”
Small breaks weren’t the worst thing for Walker, who admitted it can be challenging to balance school, cheer and her jobs. She gladly accepts the trade-off of being busy though, knowing it will pay off when she’s back on the sidelines and also when she gets her teaching degree and gets into the classroom.
Walker will be able to share a great lesson with her future students: When you find a passion in life, do everything you can to keep doing it. Walker found hers over a decade ago and she’s not going to let cheerleading go anytime soon.