Being a student athlete is no easy feat, especially at an institution as rigorous as Maryville College. To be a senior student athlete at MC is to show an extreme dedication to both academics and sports.
To Kayla Weakley, captain of the cheerleading team and four year team member, being an MC senior athlete is the best way to make an impact.
“I’ve grown so much through cheerleading. It’s been a part of me and made me into the person I am today,” Weakley said. “Someone’s always going to be looking up to you as a senior and as an athlete, and I think that’s a huge reason to be an athlete— to be a role model.”
Being an athlete from high school to college is a transition that can be difficult, yet rewarding. The responsibilities that come with being a senior in high school versus a senior in college can be massive, and they make for a daunting task with balancing one’s dedication to sport, to academics, and to everything in between.
“At Maryville, the school load is definitely a lot harder. The older I’ve gotten the more responsibilities I’ve had,” Weakley said. “It’s a lot easier to be in high school and be all in all the time when it came to cheerleading.”
Weakley was also the captain of her high school cheerleading team.
Being a senior comes with some earned perks as well, though.
“Being a senior feels as if you are held to a higher standard during practices and games,” said Bethany Bradford, senior three year team member. “Academically, it feels like you really need to do a great job and be a good example for the other people on the team.”
In small school, the senior athletes are known by fellow students and professors alike, representing leading examples for underclassmen to follow.
Growing as a student through a sport also gives athletes lasting community through their teammates and coaches.
“Cheerleading has given me a place to fit in on campus, and without it I wouldn’t feel anywhere near as connected to Maryville as I do,” said Elizabeth Kennedy, another three year team member and senior. “I decided to try out my sophomore year because I felt like something was missing from my freshman year, and I really thought it was lack of involvement on campus. Being a cheerleader specifically makes me have so much more love and pride for this campus.”
The sport of cheerleading is centered on campus pride and spirit, and being senior cheerleaders has given these athletes a sense of community in MC and among themselves. Through practices, games and team bonding, all three girls have grown and loved the cheerleading program.
“The thing I love most about being a member of the Maryville College cheerleading team is how close we all are,” Bradford said. “Everyone really cares about each other and is there to help when someone has a question or needs someone to talk to.”
The toil of senior year can be stressful, demanding and can at times feel unachievable. But in the end, it’s the moments that you take the time to notice that make it all count.
“Being a senior is so busy,” Weakley said. “My roommates are honestly surprised when they actually get to see me, but when it is over it’s going to be weird. I know I’ll just feel weird— you don’t realize how much you’ll miss it until it’s gone.”
Weakley hopes to go on to coach a high school team after she graduates and is grateful for the time spent time at Maryville as a cheerleader.
“I think if any sport as had a huge impact on your life, you should consider doing it in college,” she said. “If it’s made you grow as a person, it’s something you should definitely consider.”