By Sydney Leyerle
Special to the Sentinel-Tribune
MILLBURY — A Lake High School cheerleader has won the Instructor’s Choice Award at the 20th annual CheerHawaii USA Invitational.
Lauren Parsons was one of 150 girls from across the country who was selected to participate in the weeklong camp on June 21-28 at the University of Hawaii. The camp is taught by a group of college cheer coaches from some of the biggest schools in the country and at the end of the week they pick one cheerleader to win the Instructor’s Choice Award.
The award goes to the cheerleader that the coaches thought was the hardest worker and was someone they would want on their team.
Parsons said she didn’t expect to win the award. Her family was present when the award was handed out and her mother, Hollie Parsons, said she was very proud of her daughter’s accomplishments.
“I’m just so proud that the coaches were able to see what I see in her on a daily basis, and I think she just really was able to represent her family and our small school and our community with great integrity and pride and I’m just so proud of her and just really thankful for this experience that she got to do,” Hollie Parsons said.
Throughout the week, Lauren Parsons said she learned a variety of new skills and techniques. Some of her new skills she said she is teaching her teammates at Lake for the upcoming football season.
Along with new skills, Lauren Parsons said she made many new friendships that she believes will last for a long time to come. While she was nervous about the camp, she said it ended up being even better than she had expected.
“It was definitely nerve wracking going in there, but all of them (the cheerleaders) were so nice and you became friends with everyone that was in your group because you guys all had the same love for the same sport,” Lauren Parsons said.
Each participant of the camp had to spend the week living in a dorm with fellow cheerleaders. Even though her family was nearby, Lauren Parsons said she didn’t get to see them much and was nervous about having to live with other girls she didn’t know. However, she said the experience went well and she connected with the girls she was living with quickly.
“I was definitely worried before I got there, just nervous about how it’d go, but honestly when I got there it was like you made instant connections with who you were dorming with or other girls that were close in the area,” she said.
The opportunity to live in a residence hall and be taught by college coaches gave participants the chance to experience what college would be like which Lauren Parsons said she thinks will help her in the future when she is getting ready for college.
At the end of the week, all the parents were invited to watch the cheerleaders perform their new skills in a final showcase. Lauren Parsons’ family attended the showcase.
Part of the camp was learning how to be leaders and work together as a team, which Hollie Parsons said she thought all the cheerleaders did well during the showcase.
“You could just really tell that everyone was so excited for each other to be out there and learning all new skills and the energy was just so amazing between not only the cheerleaders but the families there watching everyone,” Hollie Parsons said. “It really made it worth the trip.”