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Jeannette junior doubles as cheerleader, athlete

| Wednesday, Oct. 16, 2013, 9:00 p.m.
Kristie Linden | The Jeannette Spirit
Monica Carl is a junior cheerleader who picked up her pom-poms for the first time this year since her days as a Midget Football cheerleader.

Monica Carl, a junior at Jeannette High School, has returned to cheerleading this year after a long hiatus.

She cheered for the Midget Football Association when she was younger but gave it up until his year.

“I started (originally) because it looked like something fun and cheering someone on is fun,” said Carl.

Her return to the sport came this year when she began thinking of attending all the Jayhawk games to cheer on her fellow athletes.

She'll mostly be cheering on the boys teams because Carl is active in soccer, basketball and softball.

“It's more organized,” she said. “It feels like an actual team. It feels like a family.”

If one girl is feeling down, Carl added, there will always be another person on hand to cheer them up.

Carl most enjoys stunting, and though she performs as a back base, she's always wanted a chance to fly through the air.

“It's just fun throwing people in the air and having the strength for it,” she said.

“I think it would be so fun to fly through the air.”

She also enjoys the dances the cheerleaders perform to music played by the marching band.

The squad practices three times each week, but she's missed some time due to her commitment to the Lady Jays soccer team.

Before every football game, said Carl, the girls might have some trouble hitting all of their stunts. But when it's game time, when the girls are in front of the crowds, she said, they always manage to hit every move.

“It's fun,” Carl said, describing the squad. “It's a year-round thing to do with all my friends.”

The cheer coaches — Justine McCabe and Kaitlin Baradziej — are a big part of the reason Carl enjoys cheering.

“Coach Justine knows what she's talking about and knows how to have fun and be serious at the same time,” she said. “Coach Kaitlin is very motivational and doesn't take any crap from anyone.”

Carl said the best thing about her coaches is that both women are sure to let the squad know when they've done something well, “so we can be proud of ourselves. They don't just do the negative.”

She enjoys being able to cheer on other teams while doing a physical activity herself.

It's nice, she said, to not have the pressure to win on her shoulders while she simply cheers them on to victory.

In addition to her sports activities, Carl is active in Ette Kette and is working at Texas Roadhouse to start saving money for college.

She's considering attending either the police academy or entering the military.

Carl is the daughter of Stacy Swanson and John Carl. She has a younger sister, Brittany.

“I want to say thank you to my coaches for making me realize what cheerleading actually is instead of a bunch of kids just running around,” said Carl.

“I want to thank my parents for motivating me to do better and taking me where I need to go.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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