For over 20 years the Rockingham County Recreation Department has held the Youth Cheerleading Exhibition for all of the recreational cheerleading teams in the area. This exhibition gives the girls, ages 6-13, an opportunity to showcase their skills and talents in a dedicated environment away from a Rockingham County Recreation football game.
This year, for the first time in recent history, the James Madison cheerleading team was able to participate in the exhibition. The activities for the National Cheerleaders Association's (NCA) reigning national champions included performing stunts, tumbling and taking photos with the participants.
Amanda Smith, who serves as the Cheerleading Coordinator for the Recreation Department, said, "We were excited to have the JMU cheerleaders showcase their stunts and tumbling. It's great that our recreation cheerleaders get to see what their future in cheerleading could look like." Smith also said that, "our young athletes admire and look up to the JMU athletes and our department always looks forward to opportunities to partner with JMU."
Having the JMU cheerleading team participate in the Cheer Exhibition not only had a tremendous positive effect on the recreational cheerleaders, but it was also a moving experience for the JMU team as well. Senior cheerleader Stefani Sangiovanni commented on the experience by saying, "The look in those cheerleaders' eyes when we entered the room was an experience in itself. Being able to be that much of an inspiration to them is very honorable and humbling."
The event took place in the Turner Ashby High School gymnasium, where over 1,000 friends and family members were able to watch more than 200 recreation cheerleaders perform. Emphasis placed on this event is that it is an exhibition, and the teams that participate are not competing against each other.
Smith added, "The Cheer Exhibition is an opportunity for the girls' skills and abilities to be showcased outside of the shadow of football. Every little girl wants to be in the spotlight and feel valued and accepted. This event provides a venue in which they can show off their new skills for their families and friends. This is not a competition and we stress that with our coaches and parents."