Cassville woman sets example as Chiefs cheerleader
Cricket follows dreams from Wildcat Stadium to Arrowhead
For one Cassville High School alumna, being part of Chiefs Kingdom involves more than just tuning on the television on Sundays.
Cricket, whose full name is redacted per Chiefs' policy, puts in a full day of work on game days at Arrowhead Stadium as a Kansas City Chiefs cheerleader.
A Kansas City native, Cricket moved to Golden when she was about 3 years old, attending Cassville elementary, middle and high schools. She first started twirling and dancing in the sixth grade, and as she got older, she got more and more into sports.
"I got more into sports and being a tomboy for a while, and I played football in the sixth grade as a safety and tight end, then I moved to wide receiver in seventh grade," she said. "I joined the cheer squad in eighth grade because as the guys got bigger, I did not grow as quickly. So, I transitioned to cheerleading and stayed on the squad from eighth grade until I graduated high school."
In her time as a Cassville cheerleader, Cricket was always up to help out the squad when needed, even when it meant donning the mascot garb.
"My sophomore year, we didn't have anyone to be the mascot, and being an opportunist, I volunteered to be the mascot," she said. "It was a lot of fun and something you don't see a lot of females do."
Cricket said her other favorite part about cheering at Cassville was the yearly camp, which was always at a different college in the area.
"One week out of the year, we would go to cheer camp at colleges like Missouri State or the University of Arkansas, and we got to meet the college cheerleaders," she said. "That was a lot of fun and was one of my favorite parts of cheering at Cassville."
Cricket took her talents to the college level at Missouri State, but had to overcome a little adversity when she got there. On prom night, Cricket tried out for the Sugar Bears dance team, but did not make the cut.
"I didn't let that get me down," she said. "I thought college would be a new experience, so I went and tried out or the Diamond Girls [dance and spirit squad for the Bears baseball team], and I made that, so I was on that squad from my freshman to senior year of college."
When she was a junior in college, Cricket said she went to a Bears football game, and even though it had never crossed her mind prior, she thought getting back into cheerleading would be a good experience.
"I tried out for the Chiefs cheerleading squad in 2009, and I made the finals, but did not make the team," she said. "So, I finished the one year of college I had left, and in 2010, I tried out again, and this time, I made it."
Each member of the Chiefs cheerleading squad has to try out every year. After her first season in 2010, Cricket was cut in 2011, but once again, she did not let that get her down.
"[Trying out every year] makes the process a little more stressful, because you always have to show more and prove you can grow to meet the Chiefs' standards," she said. "I did not let it defeat me when I didn't make it in 2011, and I've been on the squad from 2012 to now."
A typical game day for Cricket at Arrowhead starts bright and early, as she always attends the 7:30 a.m. chapel service for Chiefs players and staff.
"It's a non-denominational service that puts me at ease and helps me find my center of peace," she said. "After chapel, it all starts going pretty fast. We have a pre-game meeting, go through our rotations for each quarter and our routine schedule, then we head to the field when they take the tarp off to rehearse our programs. We do different routines every game and don't repeat any.
"Then, we go back to our room for about an hour of downtime before we get ready to go out for the pre-game tailgating. Something new we started last year is the pre-game parade, which includes [the mascot horse] Warpaint, the Rumblers, the cheerleaders, KC Wolf and the Flag Warriors. Then, head into the stadium at 11:25 to start our intro."
Cricket said once games begin, they go by fast.
"It's really fun to be on the field, but with all the cameras and the press, we end up having to watch the jumbotron a lot to see what happened in the game," she said. "But as soon as the team breaks from the huddle, we turn around and watch so we don't get hit by anything."
Being a Chiefs cheerleader part-time, Cricket also has a full-time job, and said any young cheerleader who may want to go pro one day has to work for it.
"I know it sounds cliché, but if you want something, if you have a dream, go for it," she said. "Don't be afraid to fail because failing does not define who you are, getting back up and learning from failure and changing because of it defines who you are.
"For me, baby steps and a lot of determination was how I did it. And, the Chiefs community and all we do for the Chiefs community is what keeps me going and keeps me scamming back to being a Chiefs cheerleader."
Cricket is a graduate of Cassville High School and a graduate of Missouri State University, with a degree in recreation sports and park administration, with an emphasis on therapeutic recreation. She also minored in psychology.