By Ray Van Dusen/Monroe Journal
SMITHVILLE – As the clock ticks closer to graduation, 12th-graders everywhere are busy ironing out the final details for their futures. As if Smithville High School senior Darby Hicks didn’t have enough to think about before tossing a maroon mortarboard in May, there’s that recent appointment to the Universal Cheerleaders Association staff to think about too.
Following in the steps of Jade Sullivan of Nettleton as one of the few UCA staff members to come from Monroe County, Hicks only thinks extracurricular afterschool training on top of the courses is a hectic life now.
“I’m trying out in April for the cheerleading squads at ICC and Mississippi State so it’s going to be a juggling act if I make it being on the UCA staff,” Hicks said.
As a UCA staff member, her summers will be spent helping teach cheerleading at camps and recruiting from high schools anywhere from West Virginia to Louisiana in the organization’s MidSouth district.
Other responsibilities as a staffer include behind the scenes work, judging and being a spotter. Hicks was one of 20 out of 300 cheerleaders selected last summer for the UCA and in February, she was one of 20 selected out of 100 as a staffer.
“The UCA really opens doors and it gives me a potential of landing a higher position inside the company. It isn’t just about cheerleading; it’s also about teaching unity and what a family means,” Hicks said.
After fascinations with soccer and softball in her younger years, watching older girls cheerleading sucked her into that side of athletics.
“I knew I wanted to do this so I focused on cheerleading. Getting to be on the sidelines and having everybody watch me was the biggest appeal because I like to be the center of attention,” Hicks said.
Her focus on cheerleading began in seventh-grade and has flourished more recently as she has started private lessons at Cheer Intensity Athletics in Fulton and goes twice a week to Cheerstars in Amory with instructors Jessica Edwards and Becky Pearson.
“Darby is very motivated. When she gets something in her mind, she goes for it. She has a strong faith and she makes herself better with everything she’s gone through,” Edwards said.
She’s received the Pin It Forward Award at cheer camps before and who selected as Most Spirited for SHS’ Who’s Who, thanks, in part, to her bubbling since of Seminole Pride.
“The first game after the tornado, I realized how blessed I was to be back on our field because it was part of what we love of being back on our home campus. Every Friday, you just take it all in and you’re proud to represent that high school and those people.
“Out of all I have to cheer for, I think it’s the person I’ve turn into. I am proud of the people in my life because of the things I’ve been through. I was dealt a bad hand and couldn’t have been the person I am without the people in my life and God,” Hicks said.