GUYTON — South Effingham’s competition cheerleading team is headed into the season knowing that, as a defending region champion, it has a target on its back .
Caroline Dasher has contributed to the Mustangs’ run of success. As a flyer, she has won three consecutive region titles and is determined to grab a fourth.
“It’s uplifting,” Dasher said when asked what it’s like to be part of a winning tradition. “No one really looks up to the cheerleaders and they don’t see it as a sport. When we win, we don’t get as much recognition as the other sports but we all find it exciting when we do.”
Dasher’s role is arguably the toughest on the team. Being a flyer requires an incredible amount of skill, balance and trust. It also means that she is likely to take the brunt of the criticism when a stunt goes wrong.
Still, she love it.
“When you are a flyer, you are the trophy of the stunt,” Dasher said. “You are what everyone is noticing. No one is looking at the three people below you. They are looking at the flyer to see if they are in the air, are they falling and are they doing what they are supposed to do.”
Last season, the Mustangs placed fifth at the state meet, their highest finish in school history. With just six spots on the podium, South Effingham was honored to represent its athletic program. But with this being her last season, Dasher is looking for nothing short of a first-place finish this year.
“We need to work harder,” she said. “A lot of times we get here after school and everyone is tired. I feel like I need to lead the team more because I am a senior and I want to do better this year.
“I come in ready to get stuff done.”
The girls are implementing their own ideas for their routine. The Mustangs boast an experienced and talented squad with its members competing for other teams outside of school.
“This season we are putting in a lot of our input,” Dasher said. “Last year, we didn’t really like our routine. This year, we talked to our coaches about what we wanted in our routine.
“Although we come from different places, we all work as one. It’s really motivational.”
Dasher wants to cheer for the University of Georgia coed team next fall and has already attended a clinic to familiarize herself with the Bulldogs’ cheers and chants. But she’s not getting too far ahead of herself.
Dasher is a triplet. One brother, Alex, is a member of the South Effingham band while another, Drew, is on the football team.
Although she’s making memories with her cheer sisters on the sidelines, she is thankful each one of her real siblings has a hand in creating a fun fan experience Friday nights. And she wants to delight herself in each moment as she knows it will pass quickly.
“My favorite thing about Friday night lights is getting to share the experience with my brothers,” Dasher said. “It’s a great experience because we all get to be on separate parts of the field sharing the Mustang spirit together.”