WHEATLAND – Hawaii at this time of year doesn’t sound as appealing as taking a trip in December which is when WHS junior, Jayden McDaniel, senior Ashlynn Huffer and senior Chloe Palmer will all be packing their bags and heading for Waikiki, Hawaii, to take part in the Dec. 7 Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade.
“Every year there’s this thing called ‘All-American,’” said Palmer. “It is through the Universal Cheerleaders Association. We had our home camp here at the middle school and Kitty throughout the camp selected six of us to try out in order to be a part of the All-American Association.”
The girls all competed at the home camp which had about 20 girls participating.
According to the UCA website, “In 1974, Jeff Webb founded Universal Cheerleaders Association to provide the highest quality educational training for cheerleaders with the goal of incorporating high level skills with traditional crowd leading. It was Jeff’s vision that would transform cheerleading into the dynamic, athletic combination of high energy entertainment and school leadership that is loved by so many. Today it is the largest cheerleading camp company in the world. UCA trains over 180,000 cheerleaders every summer at over 3,200 sessions across the country, offering the widest array of dates and locations of any camp company.”
“I was excited,” said Huffer. “And kind of nervous, just because it’s Chloe’s and my last year and we were really passionate about going. So, just walking into it we were just really hopeful. We worked really hard, we got in and we are super excited.”
The leaders of UCA came on a Wednesday during the Lady Bulldogs home camp to do the testing.
“On Friday were the tryouts,” said McDaniel. “The two days before that, they taught us a dance and a cheer that we had to perform for the tryouts. Honestly, it took me a while to get the dance, but we had recorded them and practiced at home after the camp. On Friday we had to try out and we also had to perform our best jump, so it was really fun. I enjoyed the dances even though they were a little bit harder than what we normally do for our school, but they were really fun.”
The camp was six hours each day during their home team camp.
“The main reason we are there is to participate in the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade,” McDaniel said. “We also get to do a lot of tours there like viewing the history and Polynesian culture. And we get to go to some Luaus.”
In addition the girls are going to get to tour the spot where the USS Arizona went down on Dec. 7, 1941.
“All of the girls and guys that made it into All-American will be in that parade with us,” Huffer said. “
The WHS Spirit team is young this year and the two seniors, Huffer and Palmer are playing mama bear to the young kids just coming into the program.
“I’m super excited just because I am confident with the cheer program,” Huffer said. “We are a very close family and we are always there for each other. So, no matter what, coming into it I was excited to share and teach the younger kids.”
The team was crowned state champions for coed cheer stunt and placed third for game day cheer and they hope to give an award-winning encore this year.
“A lot of us feel the pressure and it’s definitely in the back of our minds as to what we accomplished last year,” Palmer said. “We have some shoes to fill this year, but I’m confident in our team this year.”
Both Huffer and Palmer agree that it’s going to be hard to graduate and leave this program.
“Our goal is to leave a legacy behind and leave a good rep for our team,” Palmer said. “I am so thankful for the time I did have here.
The girls are focused on getting their team ready for state competition this year, but at the same time are excited for their trip to Hawaii and the chance to cheer with cheerleaders from all over the nation who were judged “All-American.” The girls will leave Dec. 3 and will return Dec. 8.
According to the Remember Pearl Harbor website, “The Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade Committee has been commissioned to organize the Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade, commemorating the anniversary of the invasion of Pearl Harbor each year on Dec. 7. The Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade is proclaimed by the Mayor of Honolulu as the ‘Official Public Event Marking the Anniversary of the Attack on Pearl Harbor.’
“The parade theme is "remembering the past and celebrating our future." We honor our veterans and their families while recognizing that once bitter enemies can become loyal friends and allies. In order to establish a memorial to honor those who died in the attack on Pearl Harbor, the USS Arizona Memorial was dedicated in 1962. It has been visited by countless people from all over the world during the past 50 years. The Arizona Memorial is one of the few wartime memorials in the United States where actual survivors volunteer.
“The Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade begins at Fort DeRussey in Waikiki. It proceeds down Kalakaua Avenue for 1 mile, then takes Monsarrat Avenue to the Waikiki Shell where an evening concert is held for participants in the parade.”
More Remember Pearl Harbor Memorial Parade information can be seen at: https://www.pearlharborparade.org/home