KEENE, N.H. - Kayla Chase found herself in an unfamiliar position last Tuesday night at Spaulding Gym. Usually the one helping to lead the cheers, the Goffstown native was the recipient of the crowd’s applause, being honored as the lone senior on this year’s Keene State College cheerleading team.
“It was very special and unexpected. I was the only senior this year so it was cool to be recognized,” said Chase, who was congratulated by her teammates and first-year coach Kevin Thompson before the Owls’ basketball game against Eastern Conn.
Walt Kilburn, Keene State’s public address announcer, told the appreciate crowd about Chase’s accomplishments during her four years cheering for the Owls.
. “In her position as a flyer, she has dazzled Owl fans both on and above the basketball court. Kayla has been a member of the team for the last four years, cheering for men’s and women’s basketball as well as helping her team in competition at the national cheerleading championships in Daytona Beach, Florida last season. Kayla's leadership and commitment to the squad has been instrumental in making this season, in particular, such a success. She is a great athlete and an outstanding captain.”
Growing up, Chase divided her time between gymnastic and cheering. She did competitive cheering at Celebrity Cheer in Manchester. After spending two years on the Goffstown High gymnastics, team, Chase returned to cheer for the Grizzlies as a senior.
Chase says there’s a definite correlation between the two sports. “My experience from tumbling in gymnastics carries over to cheering,” she said. The coordination, flexibility and stability from gymnastics also come in handy when you’re doing stunts.”
The daring Chase, who stands 5-3, serves as one of the teams’ fliers when they do pyramids. “It’s fun,” said Chase. “It’s quite a rush because you can fall at any moment and you really have to depend on the people below to catch you and make sure you don’t hit the ground.”
When asked to pick out a highlight from her four-years with the team, Chase quickly mentioned the squads trip to National Cheerleading championship her freshmen season when the team finished fifth.
Chase says this season has been both challenging and rewarding. “It’s been fun getting to know all the new freshmen and the sophomores they didn’t cheer their first year,” she said. “It’s definitely been a challenge to have to work with them and teach them skills they’ve never learned before. It’s also been rewarding because we’ve come a long way since the beginning of the year.”
A physical education major, Chase will return to school next year to complete student teaching assignments for her degree. Last semester she taught first and second graders at St. Joseph’s School in Keene. “I want to be a physical education teacher. Hopefully I can get a job when I’m done with my student teaching,” Chase said.
Chase said she will miss gymnastics and cheering. “I did both for quite awhile now and I love it. It’s sad that it’s coming to an end.”