By Chris Kieffer
BALDWYN – Baldwyn High School’s cheerleaders had an eventful Christmas break.
The school’s 14-member squad was chosen by an outside company to perform during the halftime show of last week’s Sugar Bowl football game between the University of Alabama and Oklahoma University in New Orleans.
They joined about 700 dancers from more than 20 states for a three-minute, 28-second performance while a band of high school students played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on Jan. 3.
They were selected by WorldStrides Heritage Performance, a Utah company that helps organize student music and performance opportunities and that works with several bowl games. Baldwyn cheerleader coach Blair Weaver said she doesn’t know what prompted the company to call her in March and invite the school’s squad to perform at the Sugar Bowl. She was told the company scouts groups that perform well at competitions and also receives referrals.
“That was such a shock to all of us,” said Weaver, who coaches along with Susanne Trollinger. “We hadn’t heard of anyone from the area doing this.”
The company sent the school a DVD to begin practicing the routine. The students arrived in New Orleans on Monday night and had practices on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. The dance was choreographed by Bonnie Story, known for her work on “High School Musical.”
“It was a lot of hard work,” said senior Mackenzie Riley, 17. “It was more work than we thought it would be. It was nice being down there and being picked out of all of the girls. The Superdome is such a big place, we were overwhelmed with all of it.”
Freshman Starr Jackson, 14, said she was shocked when she first learned they had been chosen.
“I thought it would be fun being with cheerleaders from around the country,” she said, adding that it was special to work with Story.
In addition to all of their work, the girls had some time to visit the French Quarter. The group also took a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi River and watched the New Year’s Eve fireworks from the Riverwalk.
“To me, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience not many people get to do,” Weaver said. “It was an honor to be chosen.
“I think it was an incredible experience, one they won’t forget.”