Longtime Georgia cheer coach, who made great strides in the advancement of coed teams, wants one last state championship before retiring.
Coach Jerrie Hulsey started the competitive cheerleading program at Winder-Barrow High School in Winder, GA, in 1993. Over the last 20 years, she has coached the Winder-Barrow Cheer Doggs to five state championships and made her school well-known for being one of the best in Georgia. Perhaps even more impressive, she has been one of the pioneers in advancing coed cheer squads in her region, and she regularly has several high school boys on her teams. After this year, Hulsey will be retiring as coach. Before that happens, however, she wants her team to win one more state title—and she thinks they’re more than capable of the task.
When Hulsey started the Cheer Doggs, competitive cheerleading was just beginning to be recognized as a sport across the U.S. Even so, it would be many years before people truly began to appreciate the athleticism required of cheer teams to help break the mold that the squads existed solely to support other athletic teams. Hulsey quickly began to form a formidable program. The Cheer Doggs began placing highly among other teams in Georgia, and Hulsey achieved her first state championship.
One of Hulsey’s most important accomplishments over the years has been creating a coed squad that boys from the high school want to be a part of. While male cheerleaders are often an anomaly at the high school level, Hulsey told The Barrow County News, “The boys that are on this team are popular boys at school. Practicing here at the school and people being able to see what we actually do has been really good for the program.”
In recent years, Hulsey has coached her squads through ups and downs, with championships often being followed by a few rebuilding years as seniors graduate and new cheerleaders ascend through the ranks. The team’s most recent state title (Hulsey’s fifth) came in the 2011 season. Last year, they finished second.
As Hulsey enters her last season as coach, she is convinced that her squad has what it takes to bring home one more title. She describes them as one of the most talented teams she has ever coached and claims that this year’s routine is the most difficult one she’s ever choreographed. Many of the stunts—which include 13 running falls and six standing falls—are of a difficulty level usually only seen on college teams.
In their first competition of the season, the Cheer Doggs came in third after an incorrect deduction was taken from their score. After the rules were clarified, they came in first place at their second meet. As the Winder-Barrow team pushes forward with their season, Hulsey insists that she plans to continue adding as many difficult stunts to the routine as her squad is capable of doing. She is determined to give them the best possible chance to bring home another state title with her at the helm because of how much talent she has seen them bring to the table. “I’d love to win one for them,” she told The Barrow County News. “I knew we would be talented, but they’ve grown up. That’s the biggest accomplishment for me.”
You can watch a video from one of the squad’s first competitions of the season here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qwm_jFuUhWY