Monica Ritchey - Ohio Interview by Zoe D'Angelo Nomination and Photography by Sharon Holy Photography Issue 25 of Inspiring Teens Magazine
The nomination: Monica Ritchey started dance at the age of 3 and started cheering for youth football when she was in third grade. She started competitive cheerleading in 5th grade. She was a football cheerleader in middle school and was a junior advisor for the youth football cheerleaders at that time. She was a JV football cheerleader in 9th and 10th grade and a varsity football her junior year. Monica is now in her senior year and is currently captain of the Varsity Football Squad. Monica loves to cheer; it is her passion. She loves cheering for her team and getting the crowd pumped. She also loves knowing that her two little nieces want to cheer because they come to the games and see how much fun it is!! Her two older sisters who both cheered were her inspiration. Monica is a straight A student and is VP of NHS. She is involved in future leaders and student government. Monica takes pride in her school and tries to set a positive example for others. She enjoys getting others psyched for their sports teams and for being the best they can be.
How has cheerleading impacted your life in a positive way? Cheerleading has been a part of my life since the day I was born. When I was younger, I would attend every game and competition my two older sisters cheered at. I marveled at the synchronization of the motions, was mesmerized by the flexibility showcased in the jumps, and was starstruck by the sky-high flips. I fell in love with the energy that radiated off the cheerleaders and the obvious comradery among them. Becoming a cheerleader was a dream come true for me. It makes me feel like one of my life goals has already been completed every time I put on the uniform and head to the field. Furthermore, cheerleading has given me some of my best friends. Your team really becomes your family which means that you always have a support group when needed. Some of the bonds I’ve made throughout my cheerleading career are lifelong and I am forever grateful for that.
When it comes to cheerleading, what is your favorite thing about the sport? My favorite thing about cheerleading is the performances. The excitement that consumes me before every halftime show is like nothing else I’ve ever experienced. I love to show off my and my teammates' hard work each time we take the field. The high energy that circulates each one of us is one of the best feelings. Although the pain of hearing the words “full out again” leaving my coach’s lips is unbearable, we all know that the actual performance will be worth all the trouble in the end.
When you are older, would you want to own your own cheer gym? What are your thoughts? Why or why not? Although owning a cheer gym would be fun and exciting, I do not think it is in the cards for me. Owning a gym demands more than the love of the sport, it requires a huge financial commitment. Coaches put a lot of hard work and energy into perfecting performances which is something I would be interested in. I know after college I will miss it so much that it will draw me into becoming a cheer coach, but owning a gym is not for me.
What would be 3 words to describe a cheerleading squad? Explain why you chose those 3 words. First and foremost a cheerleading squad is motivated. All the teams that I have had the pleasure of being part of have been filled with girls and boys who are extremely driven. There is always room for improvement. A motion that could be sharper or a jump that could be higher. A cheerleader’s work is never done.
The second word that describes a cheerleading squad is spirited. Getting the crowd involved and excited is our main priority so having pep and energy is required. Even on bad days you need to leave everything behind when you step on the mat, field, or floor and give it your all. Lastly, a squad must be united. Every cheerleader needs to understand that they must do their best not only for themselves, but also for their entire squad. The saying “a chain is only as strong as its weakest link” surely comes to mind when thinking about cheer. Your squad becomes your family and you all want each other to succeed.
Tell us about something awesome you do when you’re not cheering. When I am not cheering, I spend the majority of my time planning and volunteering for NHS. I am vice president of this club; therefore, I have a lot of responsibilities that require a plethora of my time and energy. This is my second year in the group and it truly has had a positive impact on my life. NHS has allowed me to get out in my community and get involved. From cleaning up beaches to dressing up as characters for the Haunted Hayrides we truly do it all. Currently my fellow officers and I are working hard to bring a new fun dance to our school. Between cheer practices and NHS, I barely have time for anything else, but I wouldn’t change it for the world.
Monica will be featured in Issue 25 of Inspiring Teens Magazine!