BY CORY WOODROOF
For Nolensville High School cheerleader Halee Reeder, the best gift of the holiday season might arrive after Christmas.
The senior is set to fly across the pond to represent the school with the Universal Cheerleaders Association in the London New Year’s Day Parade.
“It’s literally indescribable,” Reeder said of the honor. “It’s exciting — getting the thought of getting to go — but it’s really going to hit me when I can actually pack my bags and get everything together.
“It’s amazing to go on a trip over there like that, to do cheer [in London], especially on New Year’s, something I really love.”
Reeder was one of a few selected as an All-American Cheerleader and for the Top Award out of about 150 tryouts from the UCA’s University of Alabama cheer camp along with Nolensville’s Lauren Siner. The competition was in front of a 300+ crowd.
With Siner opting not to attend the London parade, Reeder will find herself the sole ambassador for the high school and among some of the elite young cheerleaders in the country.
She’s also the first in Nolensville’s history to partake in the event.
The accomplishment for Reeder comes with great excitement, for any number of reasons.
“We’re Alabama fans, so it made it even more special,” she said with a laugh. “That was my dream school. Getting to go down there and go into their indoor practice field and get to go in their coliseum and see everything, it made it feel more real and more special.”
Reeder one of Nolensville’s first cheerleading success stories
She has been cheering for 13 years and has found herself as one of the cornerstones of the young Nolensville varsity cheer squad.
The school, which opened in 2016, has had a few different cheer coaches since Reeder has been with the team, but she’s been able to power through the change and succeed in the sport.
She was even in on the school’s mascot selection process, showcasing just how far her ties go back to Nolensville blue.
“It was definitely rough, that first year we opened,” Reeder recalled. “There were so many girls on our team who had never cheered before, so basically, that first year [was just about getting] the school going, with school spirit and everything.”
A lot of new cheerleaders got the gist of the sport that year, Reeder said. She looks back on those days fondly, even through the transition. The team got to be part of the school’s ribbon cutting and first Homecoming celebrations.
“All that was a lot of fun,” she said.
Though, a legitimate tryout process soon followed, which allowed the team to put together a squad ready for competitions.
“We set a lot of records,” she said of her junior year and the school’s second. “We got to go down to Alabama for the first time for cheer camp. We learned a difficult routine, and more challenging cheers…we ended up winning all first-place trophies.”
That success carried over to the senior season and the school’s third in business, which led to Reeder claiming top honors at the Alabama cheer camp and punching her ticket to the West End.
“It was amazing having all four grades,” she said of the current school year. “It was like the full high school experience.”
One of the challenges with having such a young team was the lack of senior leadership. This, after all, is Nolensville’s first senior class to graduate.
The cheer team opted not to choose captains as a way to signify everyone’s level status with the program.
She said the equal playing field taught her and her teammates leadership and humility. They wanted to set an example for the younger members of the team.
“We all believed that it was a teamwork thing,” she said. “No one’s better than anybody else.”
A cheer down the road
Next fall, Reeder has plans to attend Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., to study nursing.
A contemplation of college cheering didn’t mesh well with the course load ahead, so she said she hopes to coach cheerleading with UCA’s to remain close to the sport past her high school days.
“So I think to still have cheer with me and be a part of me is going around and actually helping cheerleaders in high school and middle school…[so] I can be their role model and set everything for them,” she said.
For now, though, it’s a London Calling for London cheering.
“It’s just a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” she said. “Being a senior also ties it all together. That’s going to be the best senior trip anyone could go on.”