'Lander cheerleading squad will cheer in title game

By Dallas Cook

   With a win Friday night over South Pittsburgh the Cloudland Highlanders have made history in being the first team east of Jefferson City to make it to the state championship final.
   Another first for the area is the Cloudland high school cheerleading squad. Though not seen by many people as an important part of the football program, the Cloudland cheerleaders have proven that their school spirit is the best around.
   "This is probably one of the most dedicated group of girls that we've ever had," said Cloudland cheerleading coach Wendy Eller. "They've worked harder than any that I've ever seen."
   Working countless hours the lady Landers squad has dedicated their time and effort to the sport of cheerleading as any athlete would to their sport.
   "They always do everything that is asked of them," Eller said. "They don't miss practice or games, they're just awesome and I'm proud of them."
   Many critics argue that cheerleading isn't sport but with the physical attributes and talent that these ladies posses, along with injuries like those to any other athletes, they are apart of a team that is only for a select few.
   Among the other member of the squad are Heather Smith, Brandy Gouge and Courtney Hughes who are the three senior captains.
   "It's been really good," said Brandy Gouge of her career at Cloudland. "It's good to know that my senior year we did something better than anybody."
   In their years there the Lander cheerleading squad has been at every game to watch as their football team has excelled on the field.
   "This is something I've always wanted to do," said Hughes. "Since my freshman year we've cheered and we've never made it this far (mentioning the playoffs). It's been good to be apart of something great."
   When asked about how cheerleading has played a major role in her life, Smith had nothing but positive words.
   "It's been wonderful," said Smith of being a cheerleader. "It's been the best experience of my life."
   The people of Roan Mountain have also been encouraging for Cloudland as each game is almost packed out with enthused fans creating a disadvantage for the visiting teams.
   "The community has been a key part for us," Gouge said. "The support that they show is outstanding. It's also good to know that we are a part of something and that we were with them all the way."
   This Friday the football team cheerleaders will take part in the Class 1-A State Championship game at 3:30 p.m. in Murfreesboro. All fan support is needed and any donations for the team and cheerleading squad can be taken to Cloudland High School as they prepare for the trip.
   "I'm very proud of these girls and I'm proud of our football team," said Eller. "They've all done outstanding jobs."