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Summer Sports Spotlight


For this week’s installment of our summer series, we spoke with Gracie Pruitt, a senior cheerleader at Purcell High School.

Having taken dance lessons for years leading up to high school, Gracie began cheering in the seventh grade with the junior high cheer squad. She also runs track for the Dragons in the spring.

Our conversation with Gracie is below.

Q: What’s one of your favorite memories from cheerleading in high school?

A: “Definitely the different cheer camps I’ve been to and the different groups of seniors I’ve had. My freshman year, the seniors were so welcoming and just made everything fun, so I really enjoyed that group.”

Q: What’s something a coach has told you that you’ve remembered or that has stuck with you?

A: “I’ve had a different cheer coach every year I’ve been in high school. But, for my freshman year, our competitive coach was Stanzi Gibson, and she just said a bunch of things that encouraged me. She told me that I was the most versatile cheerleader she’d seen in a while, and she always encouraged me to go do whatever I wanted to do and try out new things.”

Q: Do you have any strange superstitions you believe in?

A: “One mostly universal cheer superstition is never dropping the spirit stick. It’s bad luck.”

Q: A lot of people are inspired by another athlete and may kind of structure their game around how that person plays. Do you model your game around any cheerleader past or present? If not, who would you say your style of performance is most comparable to?

A: “For cheer, I just feel like I try to model the older girls who I’ve had throughout my cheer career. Specifically the seniors in my freshman and sophomore years. They taught me a lot, and I try to be more like them and encourage other girls to be more like them.”

Q: How do you set yourself apart from other student-athletes? What makes you special or different?

A: “I feel like I just try to work anywhere I can. I can do every spot in a stunt group, so I try to jump in. If they need a base, I’ll be the base. If they need the back spot, I’ll be the back spot. I’m very versatile in that way, and I don’t care where I am. I just go wherever anyone needs me.”

Q: When you have a bad performance or competition, what do you do to take your mind off things or reset from that? Do you have any hobbies that you lean on away from the field?

A: “I don’t know. I just try to listen to music to, you know, get my mind off of it, think about other things, talk to people about it, and get some encouragement, things like that.”

Q: Obviously, a lot of students look forward to the summer to get away from school. Do you have any plans or are you doing anything this summer? If so, what are they?

A: “I went to Girls State at the beginning of the summer. I went to cheer camp. I work at a day care throughout the summer, stuff like that.”

Q: On the other hand, you still have to be ready when the season comes around. Are you doing any training or going to any competitions over the summer?

A: “I work out with a personal trainer at the Chickasaw gym, and I also take tumbling classes to try to get my tumbling back after my ankle surgery. And I also go to physical therapy to get my strength back and be prepared for next season.”

Q: Do you see yourself pursuing cheer at the next level? If not, what are your plans for the future?

A: “I would love to pursue cheer at the next level. I would either like to cheer in college or run track in college, either one.”

Q: What advice would you give to your younger self?

A: “I would probably tell her not to listen to negative comments because there are people out there who do believe in you and they will push you to be your best.”

Q: What’s one of the biggest challenges you run into as a student athlete?

A: “Just negativity. Like I said, especially with cheer, people look down on it from other sports, but we’ve proven ourselves. We made it to state last year and we didn’t finish last. So I think that we’re proving ourselves and that negativity is going to start going down soon.”

Q: When you step onto the field and get ready to perform, what’s your biggest motivating factor? What’s your why?

A: “Probably just to prove people wrong about Purcell cheer. For so many years, they said we’re not as good as we are, so when I step out there, I want to prove to them that we have improved and we’re better; we’re just like any other sport.”


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