MANATEE COUNTY — Stacey Horton has never been short on school spirit — even after she graduated.
A former middle school and Riverview High School cheerleader, Horton spent the past 12 years on the sidelines trying to create a sense of pride throughout the East County first as an elementary and middle school cheerleading coach and then as Braden River High’s cheerleading coach — a post she held from the time the school opened until her daughter, Dominique, graduated last year.
Now after a fourth-month hiatus, Horton is ready to return to coaching. On Nov. 3, Horton will start a new cheerleading club for middle school students, designed for girls who have aspirations of becoming a cheerleader and to prepare them for cheering at the high school level.
“I really like teaching it,” Horton said. “It’s for everyone. You don’t have to have experience. It’s for the girls who would love to be a cheerleader. Deep down I think every little girl wants to be a cheerleader.
“I want to give them the confidence to be able to do it and the knowledge it takes to get to that point,” she said.
The club, open to all middle school girls, will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, at Nolan Middle School, 6615 Greenbrook Blvd. The first class will be free so those interested in cheerleading can meet Horton and try out the club. The cost for the remainder of the classes will be $7 per class. Additionally, the girls will receive a matching practice outfit.
During the cheerleading club, Horton will be teaching basic technique, arm motions and how to be a sideline cheerleader. Additionally, the girls will prepare for high school tryouts and have the opportunity to participate in mock tryouts to get a better understanding of what it’s like to be judged.
“In cheerleading, everyone on the team is involved and has a part to do,” Horton said. “I’ve seen girls get cut not because they won’t be a good cheerleader, but because they don’t have experience.
“I want to take these girls and get them ready for sideline cheerleading,” she said. “Cheerleading is a full-blown sport in Florida now.”
Horton began teaching cheerleading at the elementary school level when her daughter was at Myakka Elementary. She spent five years coaching elementary school girls before moving up to middle school where she spent the next three years.
When Braden River High opened in 2005, Horton assumed the head coaching position, building the school’s cheerleading program from the ground up. She spent four years coaching the Pirates until leaving her post at the end of last year.
“I did Braden River, and I loved that,” Horton said. “I loved being able to start the program there, but it’s just a huge time commitment. I was at the school every day.”
With only 30 practices before high school tryouts, Horton is eager to get started working with the girls and introducing them to the sport she loves.
“I want to get involved,” Horton said. “I get to know all of the girls and I consider them like my own girls. I love the kids, and I’m just so excited to be teaching it again.
“I like to make cheerleading fun,” she said. “If the girls get a good taste of it and have a good attitude then they’ll have a great high school experience.”
Contact Jen Blanco at email@example.com.
Stacey Horton’s Middle School Cheerleading Club
WHAT: a cheerleading club for all middle school girls, regardless of their level of experience, who have aspirations of becoming a cheerleader
WHEN: 4:30-5:30 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays, beginning Nov. 3
WHERE: Nolan Middle School, 6615 Greenbrook Blvd., Lakewood Ranch
COST: $7 per class; Nov. 3 class is free.
INFO: Stacey Horton, 914-1825 or 322-8050