If things had been different, Rachel Waeckerle might not be headed to the all-state tryouts for cheerleading.

Waeckerle, a senior at Jay High School, only began taking part in the the sport three years ago. 

Before that, she played softball and basketball. But things changed her sophomore year.

It was then she decided to pursue cheerleading.

"I quit [other sports] because there was a timing conflict with sports practice and cheer practices," Waeckerle said. "I decided to pursue cheer because it was the closest thing I could get to gymnastics which was the first sport I fell in love with.”

She was named the most improved cheerleader in her first year of high cheerleading and won placed third at the Texas Showdown competition that same year with her Cheers all star cheer squad.

Her junior year, she was given the leadership award and this summer she became a UCA All American cheerleader where she now has the chance to be on the UCA cheer staff in the spring.

But her career hasn’t always had highlights.  

“I failed to make the varsity cheer team my freshman year and then injured my knee my sophomore year and had to stop tumbling for a while which I love,” said Waeckerle.

But now, as a senior, Waeckerle practices everyday at the school 45 minutes, and then for an hour and half, twice a week on her all-star squad. 

Love of the sport

The love for cheerleading came from her first love gymnastics, which she began when she was three years old.

“Being able to tumble and compete is very important to me that is one of the big reasons I chose to join cheerleading, “said Waeckerle, adding she's had lots of help to achieve her success.

“There have been multiple people who have helped me get to the point that I am in cheer my parents, Coach Brandi Wegner, Coach Kelsey Rhine, Coach Dustin Holland and Cody Keys who is my tumbling coach and also the Northeast Oklahoma A&M cheer coach," She said. "They have helped me come a long way."

After such a short career, she was surprised at her selection for all-region.

“They only pick 16 cheerleaders," Waeckerle said. "It is a huge honor to be an all region cheerleader.

"It has been my goal since I saw former Jay cheerleader Zoey Weaver make all region my sophomore year."

Making the all region team has opened up another door for Waeckerle - a chance to try out for all state on Saturday, Nov. 11.

What's next

Waeckerle has plans to continue to cheer as she pursues a college degree in psychology. 

She's already attended a couple of college clinics and been in touch with several college coaches about her future plans.

But until college she has enough to keep busy, completing her senior year at Jay.  

“I now have the opportunity to try out for the UCA cheer staff in the spring," she said. "I expect [to get] multiple scholarship offers for cheer."

Waeckerle said if she has one regret, it is that she would have started the sport earlier in her academic career.

But, regardless, she is appreciative for what has happened during her time on the Jay High School squad.

“I am extremely thankful for all that I have accomplished and I couldn’t have done it without God and the constant support my parents have given me throughout the years," Waeckerle said. "I can’t wait to see what the future holds."

Waeckerle is the daughter of Jodi and Chris Waeckerle.