Leading more than just cheers
Morgan Arbuckle exemplifies what it really means to be a cheerleader
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The many cheer teams all sit nervously on the floor in a cramped stadium, waiting for the results of the state competition to be announced and praying that their hard work will be rewarded. As the MC begins announcing the winners, the nervousness and anticipation gets ramped up to an even higher level.
The anticipation finally explodes into a burst of emotion when the MC announces that MTHS cheer placed fifth place in the whole state.
Earning fifth place in the state cheer competition couldn’t have been accomplished without the leadership of cheer co-captain and senior Morgan Arbuckle.
“Oh yeah, [she’s a good leader]. Probably the best,” senior and fellow co-captain Taylor Douglas said. “She’s probably the mother of our team because she would just keep everyone on track. If someone was messing around at practice, then she’d be telling them to [focus].”
To the cheerleaders, Douglas’ analogy of Arbuckle being the mother of one big happy family has become the foundation of a strong bond that all of them share with one another.
“After school every day, we would be [at practice] for at least two hours, most times three hours, so we kind of lived there,” Arbuckle said. “We [got] in arguments like a family, we cared for and supported one another whenever anyone got hurt, and so it was nice having that family connection.”
However, the matriarch of the family wasn’t always so enthusiastic about being a cheerleader.
“In the beginning I was hesitant to even try out,” Arbuckle said. “There are all these stereotypes about cheer that it’s some big posse that goes around bullying everyone.”
Arbuckle got a little push from her older sister that would seal the deal in her joining cheer.
“What got me into [cheer] was that my older sister did it,” Arbuckle said. “She kept pushing me, telling me it was a good experience, and I never thought that was true until I tried out and was on [the team].”
Alumnae and Morgan’s older sister Taylor Arbuckle reflected on when Morgan decided to join.
“As her big sister, I feel proud and happy to say that I helped her [join cheer] and come out of her shell a bit,” Taylor said.
There are many misconceptions about what cheerleaders actually do. Taylor Arbuckle explained that there are many stereotypes about cheerleaders, ranging from the idea that cheer is a bunch of preppy bullies to the idea that all they do is wave their pom-poms around at football games.
She said those ideas and everything in between cannot be farther away from the truth.
“It’s not just about doing flips and waving your pom-poms around,” Taylor Arbuckle said. “It’s more about taking on a leadership role and being active and helping out around your community.”
As captains, Douglas and Arbuckle led the cheer team to compete in cheer competitions for just second time in MTHS history.
“It was crazy,” Arbuckle said. “Last year was our first time competing and we made it to state again this year. The adrenaline that you get is something that I can’t even explain, and it was just nice being out there with the people I love.”
Unlike other sports, cheerleading isn’t something that most people talk about on a competition basis. When Terrace cheerleaders competed during the past two years, that became something that changed.
[It was nice] to show people how much we’ve improved throughout the year because I don’t think most people understand how much work we’ve put into it, and how time consuming it is so once [that hard work] paid off, it was really rewarding,” she said.
Their hard work started being recognized and it all paid off when the team placed fifth best in the state.
“To hear that you’re fifth best in the state, that’s mind blowing,” Arbuckle said.
“Two years ago, we were at the lowest skill level and to see how much we’ve improved, it’s amazing. It was rewarding to be recognized for [that improvement].”
Cheerleading aside, Arbuckle has made herself known through many other outlets.
She was selected as one of the three senior girls to be a part of senior homecoming court.
She was crowned as one of the two homecoming princesses.
In addition to that, Arbuckle showed a fun and energetic side of her when she and senior Alisha Clingan collaborated together to debut the dance skills of the dynamic duo dance group known as “Thunder and Lightning.”
“My favorite memory would have to be trying out for the talent show with my friend, [Clingan],” Arbuckle said.
“It’s senior year and we were like, ‘We can do whatever we want.’ So we tried out for [the talent show] and ended up making it, and we did this crazy dance and made it rain in the audience. It’s something I’ll never forget.”
When she’s not cheering or performing with Clingan, Arbuckle is active in helping out around the school.
She is an active member in both Project Unify and Family, Career and Community Leaders of America (FCCLA).
“I think she’s a great leader,” Taylor Arbuckle said. “She’s had such a positive influence on MTHS and it’s just because she’s such a positive person and such a relatable person. Morgan [Arbuckle] is my inspiration because she’s such a great leader while still being so fun and outgoing all the time.”
High school is only a brief stop in her life, as it is for many high school students. For Arbuckle, her next stop is Ellensburg, Wash.
She will be attending Central Washington University in the fall in hopes to pursue a business degree.
Even though she won’t continue cheerleading in college, Arbuckle said the leadership and social skills that she learned and perfected in cheer will come in handy as she goes onto college and eventually into her career.