GALION — The Galion Youth Cheer (GYC) Program has come full circle. Girls who used to cheer in the program are now coming back to help GYC continue to grow and promote self-esteem.
Molly Harr, GYC coordinator, said Cady Watkins and Hannah Evans, are two young women who have assisted in coaching with the program, and she is delighted the two have decided to give back.
“GYC got started in 2005 when Cady’s mom (Cheryl Russell) and a few other women started the cheer program,” Harr said. “Currently, we have 77 active cheerleaders in grades kindergarten through sixth grade.”
She said the K-3 girls cheer for the flag football program, while the girls in grades 4-6 cheer for their grades and travel to other schools.
“I believe this program benefits the girls involved because it brings different types of girls together,” Harr explained. “We have girls who start out shy and become the best cheerleaders. I think the coolest thing in the past couple years has been seeing fifth- and sixth-grade girls who have never cheered before come out for the program. I think this is a positive group with good role models. That is the best part of it.”
Harr said Cady’s family started the Galion Youth Cheer and Galion youth football programs.
“So, Cady and Hannah did Galion Youth Cheer all the way up until they aged out and then they both cheered at varsity level,” Harr said. “They also did competition cheer.
“So what happened is, I took over the cheer program three seasons ago,” Harr said. “I took it over because I didn’t want to see the program go under. I hate to see youth programs go under. In my head, I thought ‘what if my daughter wants to cheer and there is no program.’ The first year I took over we had 17 girls. Last year we went up to 80. Basically, from three years ago we have more than tripled our numbers. Our sponsors are up, and it’s a great program.”
“Cheryl had reached out to me and said she wanted to come back and help,” Harr said. “So she came back and coached fifth and sixth grade with her daughter, Cady. Then Cady texted me and said she wanted help. They coached for us last year and did amazing things with the girls. This year they came back and brought Hannah.
“This year Cady and Hannah are teaching fifth and sixth, and Cheryl took on the role of teaching the second graders,” Harr said. “I guess what’s neat is what started has now come full circle.
“It’s amazing that two young girls, who are 20, reached out to me to volunteer their time for 77 young girls,” Harr said. “They are a positive aspect of the program, they are positive role models, they are encouraging and the girls really look up to them.
“They don’t get paid for this and they still choose to still do it. They choose to give back to this program they grew up in,” Harr said. “It’s just amazing. What they’ve done for the cheer side of the program, I could never have done. They are absolutely integral to this program.They have just done amazing things. They’re the reason we’re getting fifth- and sixth-grade girls out who have never cheered before.
Harr said GYC has a big event coming to put some focus just on the cheerleaders.
On Thursday, Oct. 3 from 5:30 to 7 p.m. at the Galion Primary building, they will have an open cheer night where the girls can invite family and friends to watch them cheer.
“We had this last year, and I thought we would have maybe 50 or 60 people come, but we ended up having over 100,” she said. There also will be a bake sale that day to help raise funds for the program. “We are still nonprofit. We are also including the Leadership Team, and they are going to open up the doors and greet people. We’re trying to involve the schools as much as we can. The cast of ‘Mama Mia!’ is going to sing the National Anthem. I want the community involved as much as possible.”
The group is looking for more events for the girls to cheer at to showcase what they can do. Anyone interested in having the girls show up at their program can call Harr at 419-961-3630.