“Rapp — Rappahannock!” On Friday, Sept. 10, shouts in the Rappahannock County High School gym reverberated as the new fall cheerleaders led a full house in the year’s first pep rally.
Beyond the class spirit competition, the crowd enjoyed an energized Rappahannock Band performance introductions of fall teams, a tug of war contest, and jaw-dropping cheer routines.
At the season’s launch, the Rapp cheerleaders also featured a new coach. Jan McKinney, English teacher and RCHS alumna, stepped in as the varsity coach this fall. Although this is her first year coaching, McKinney revealed, “I cheered at RCHS for four years . . . decades ago.”
“My first goal for the squad,” McKinney said, “is for them to be role models and community leaders. I expect my team members to not only perform athletically but academically. Honor roll is one of my expectations.
“My second goal is for them to evolve from a team into a family. In order to be successful at complicated stunting and builds, it is imperative for them to know and trust each other. Safety is paramount.
“My final goal for the season is to be competition-ready by next year. Our squad is very young and certainly eager. They are excited about learning and growing as better athletes. We have a long way to go, but I think that they have a strong spirit.”
Coach McKinney’s goal of competing next year faces an additional challenge with some changes in Virginia High School League (VHSL) rules regarding mats. “In order to compete next year, we will have to purchase a new mat,” she said. Athletic Director Jamie Harris is already investigating used mat prices and additional sources of funding.
In the meantime, the squad continues afternoon practices with McKinney and her assistant, Deanna Wayland. Although McKinney is technically in charge of the varsity and Wayland the JV, the girls will cheer as a combined squad. Eighth- and ninth- graders will also cheer at any middle school football games.
One of the practicing cheerleaders, senior Kristen LeVans, is just as excited as her coach. LeVans said, “The squad is going to be a lot better than it was because we have more people. We are hoping to get the crowd more into the games this year.”
Look for the RCHS fall cheerleading squad at all the home football games. Their next appearance is 7 p.m. Friday (Sept. 24), when the Panthers host Southern Garrett County High School from Oakland, Md.
Katie Hartman (12thgrade), captain
Kristen LeVans (12th grade), captain
Amy Scogno (12th grade)
Alex Jung (11th grade)
Alaina Devine (11th grade)
Samantha Ferguson (11th grade)
Lauren Eline (10th grade)
Chelsy Costello (10th grade)
Tanyon Lee (9th grade)
Emily Perry (9th grade)
Renee Jenkins (9th grade)
Stacy Leidenheimer (9th grade)
Sarah Coffman (9th grade)
Amber Blackburn (9th grade), captain
Laikyn Nash (9th grade)
Kellie Baker (8th grade)
Lisa Leidenheimer (8th grade) Captain
Cammy Clark (8th grade)
Olivia Funk (8th grade)