Just like any successful athlete, Holly Gindlesperger sports all the necessary traits: strength and agility, poise under pressure, a desire to excel in competition.
Photo by Jim Blaylock
Still, the Evans High School senior has to overcome the perception that her area of expertise - cheerleading - is not an athletic pursuit.
"They really don't see it as a sport," she says of the opinion held by some gridiron warriors at Evans.
Others, however, have seen the light.
"You always see the cheerleaders practicing in the commons area, and they work really hard," Evans football player Jacob Filiatreau said. "I just can't see how Holly does some of those routines. I'd be afraid somebody'd drop me."
For Gindlesperger, fearlessness comes with the territory. She is cheerleading captain of the football and competition squads at Evans, and is a member of the national champion All-Star Panthers competition squad of Atlanta.
"You have to be athletic in competitive cheerleading," Evans cheerleading coach Kelly Garnto said. "Most people don't have an idea of what it takes to be the type of athlete Holly is."
Before she's through, Gindlesperger might be recognized as the best high school cheerleader in the state - she recently was selected as an All-State cheerleader at the Georgia Cheerleading Coaches Association tryout.
Only 16 prep cheerleaders made the final cut, and after the Georgia High School Association Cheerleading State Championships in February, one of them will be named Georgia Cheerleader of the Year.
"Routine-wise, I'd say Holly was the best there, and not just because I'm her coach," Garnto said. "Genuinely, she was the best. Determination is the main thing. She's very committed to the sport."
Gindlesperger also is on the track and field team at Evans, but she doesn't think jumping hurdles is that much of a challenge.
"Cheerleading is a little harder, because it's more mental," she said. "You can't be scared of flipping, and it takes a lot of endurance to do routines. A 2 1/2 minute routine can seem like an eternity."
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