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Cheerleader signs to join Oregons tumbling team

Cheyenne Holliday joins the Ducks national-caliber acrobatics squad


by: SANDY POST: PARKER LEE - Sandy senior Cheyenne Holliday was surrounded by her teammates while signing a letter of intent last week.Sandy High senior cheerleader Cheyenne Holliday is accustomed to rooting on her friends and classmates from the sidelines. On Thursday, they were cheering for her.

At Thunder Elite – her cheer gym in Clackamas – Holliday was surrounded by family and friends as she signed a letter of intent to join the University of Oregon Acrobatics and Tumbling team next year.

“When they offered me, I was stunned. I couldn’t believe it,” Holliday said. “It happened so fast, and I was just so excited.”

Acrobatics and tumbling is a discipline of gymnastics that blends aspects of traditional gymnastics and cheerleading. The combination is a physically-intense, unique sport with a unique skill set. The sport, which is governed by the National Collegiate Acrobatics & Tumbling Association, is a sanctioned college activity and adheres to all NCAA rules and regulations. Oregon is one of 12 current members of the NCATA and has won the last three national championships.

Whether she realized it or not, Holliday has been preparing herself to excel in high-level acrobatics and tumbling for years.

Holliday became a gymnast right around the time she learned to walk and some of her earliest memories are from performances in gymnastics meets. In fifth grade, she started working with the coaches at Thunder Elite as she made the jump to competitive cheerleading. Eight years later, Holliday is still training there and has made strides she thought were impossible.

“I had done gymnastics my whole life, so it was hard to make the transition,” Holliday said. “I started out really clumsy and I really wasn’t good at all, but the coaches accepted me as a person for who I was. They taught me everything and made me the athlete I am today.”

The staff members at Thunder Elite refuse to take credit for Holliday’s success. They say her attitude and drive made the difference and allowed her to become a top-flight cheerleader.

“Cheyenne is a very committed and driven young woman who balances her strong work ethic with a silly sense of humor and playful approach,” Thunder Elite gym director Tara Mahoney said. “She knows what she wants, will work tirelessly to get it and can laugh at herself to relieve the tension that can accompany intense training.”

After mastering cheerleading, Holliday accepted an invitation from a friend to attend an acrobatics camp at Oregon. Holliday instantly fell in love with the sport and the people involved, and it was then that she knew it was something she had to be a part of.

Holliday later went on a recruiting trip to Oregon where the coaches and athletes told her she fit in well and could thrive in acrobatics and tumbling. An offer followed and it took her about one-tenth of a second to become a Duck.

Holliday has found a way to become a college-caliber athlete while maintaining a busy life outside of acrobatics. When she isn’t spending hours in the gym training, she is dedicating herself to the Sandy varsity cheer squad. As if all that wasn’t enough, Holliday is part of the robotics team at Sandy. She manages to juggle acrobatics, cheer and robotics while keeping her grades up. Oh, and she has a part-time job.

For Holliday, there is no such thing as free time. But she wouldn’t have it any other way.

“Sleep? No. There is no time for sleep,” Holliday said. “I like to throw myself into everything and stay busy all the time. I can sleep when I’m dead.”