Flannigan is an athletic role model
Dedication, hard work, sacrifice, and a positive attitude are all key elements of athletics. Sometimes the strongest examples of those qualities are right in front of us, and watching us as we watch the game. They wave to us, shout chants at us, urge us to get on our feet, and help us get involved. Would home-court/home-field advantage mean the same thing without these unsung sports heroes? Would sports be at all the same without these athletes' excitement and preparation?
I am, of course, talking about cheerleaders. I was lucky enough to get a glimpse into the life of a college cheerleader; Monette's own, Rebekah Flannigan. Rebekah is a senior cheerleader at Arkansas State. Her parents are Dr. Robert and Cindy Flannigan. Rebekah will be graduating in May with a degree in Marketing. She plans to go to graduate school and pursue an MBA.
"I love being in front of the crowd and performing. It's a lot of fun. I want to thank my parents for all they've done: gymnastics lessons, cheer uniforms and moral support. They always encouraged me to push myself."
Rebekah has been involved in cheerleading for thirteen years; and would tell any young person interested in getting into cheering, "It's a great experience and a great opportunity to be involved in your school."
Rebekah studied dance, gymnastics, and tumbling. She practices three days a week. "It's a lot of hard work, and cheering requires all the same attributes as other sports."
Even cheerleaders have days when they just aren't cheerful. "Of course you have days like that, but it's a job. You grin and bear it."
Rebekah has been lucky enough to avoid any major injuries during her career. "Cheerleading has more injuries than any other sport. I think it may bother cheerleaders that they aren't thought of the same as other athletes." Most of the male cheerleaders come from other sports. "Once they try cheering they see it a lot differently."
Rebekah has enjoyed the travel that goes with collegiate sports. "My freshman year we went to Louisiana to the Sunbelt Tournament. We went to New Orleans for the NCAA, that was awesome."
Rebekah and her squad-mates represent the true spirit of sport. They do it strictly for the love. You see, Arkansas State doesn't offer scholarships for its' cheerleaders like nearly every other Division I school. Only one small cash award is given annually.
Rebekah has a great attitude. She is bright and genuine. She strives and works to be good at what she does and expects nothing in return. Miss Flannigan shows us that the allusive athlete role model that everyone is looking for may be on the sideline and not the field.