Back row, from left: Tayler Berardino, Myah McCloud, Jade Stutts, Coach Melissa Heintzelman, Alexa Leonard, Hailey Seats and Jenae Sheat. Middle row, from left: Ashley Heintzelman, Chloe Seidel, Mercedes Lyskoski. Front row, from left: Hanna Swaringen, Daphne Marsten, Sam Barteau. 

Not pictured: Maddie Bates and Kayleigh Jordan. Photo by Adam Presswood

Not only are seven of Winfield’s varsity cheerleaders returning for another season, but the squad will also benefit from the influx of six new freshmen and one junior transfer student.

“This year’s squad is looking pretty good,” said head coach Melissa Heintzelman.

Heintzelman is a Winfield graduate, as well as a former cheerleader herself.

She currently teaches fourth grade, and is in her fourth year of coaching the squad.

The squad’s captains this season are Ashley Heintzelman and Hanna Swaringen, but the team will also be looking to Kayleigh Jordan for leadership.

In terms of aerial entertainment, the squad will feature four flyers this year. These include Ashley Heintzelman, Jenae Sheat, Hailey Seats and Chloe Seidel.

The girls will be cheering at all football and basketball games this season, with their first event scheduled for August 30 – a game on the road against Wright City.

They will also compete as a squad in the regional tournament at Saint Francis Borgia in October. If they do well enough, then it’s on to the state competition at Lindenwood University in November.

Heintzelman has taken squads to state in the past, and she hopes to continue doing so.

Her girls are currently working on a competition routine to coincide with that goal, something that is a brand-new concept for the six incoming freshmen.

“The freshmen are still coming into their own as cheerleaders,” Heintzelman said. “They have a lot of growing to do, but it’s coming. As far as the competition routine goes, it’s been kind of terrifying for them, but they’ve all been working super hard and I’m proud of my girls.”

Heintzelman added that it gives her a great deal of pride to have returned to a squad that she once cheered for herself, and to have worked hard as a coach to change that program for the better. She said she wants her current squad to work just as hard as she has, but she also has high hopes for their overall character development and their personal growth as well.

“I want my girls to respect the sport and to put forth the effort,” Heintzelman said. “What’s just as important, though, is that their time on this squad helps them to develop their confidence, and that it opens their horizons to include new possibilities.”