New Era: The Callaway cheerleading program is feeling rejuvenated under Serenity Graham
Published 8:30 am Wednesday, August 9, 2023
The Callaway cheerleading program is heading in a new direction. Under first-year head coach Serenity Graham, the team is poised to return to competitive cheerleading while also further blossoming under the Friday night lights.
“When I had the opportunity to come in and rebuild a program and get back on the mats, I was all about it,” Graham said.
Graham is no stranger to coaching cheer in Troup County as she coached the LaGrange High team in the glory days of the Steve Pardue era with the football team winning three state championships. Just last year she served as the Long Cane spirit cheer coach.
Now, she is ready for a new challenge.
“I’m an older coach, so I thought those days had passed,” Graham said. “I desperately missed the competitive side of cheer and competition on those blue mats. I wanted Callaway to have that opportunity, so I transferred to Callaway High School in January.”
Graham has been a member of the LaGrange and Troup family previously but has transitioned to Callaway earlier this year. It is the first time she has been a part of the Callaway part of the county, and she had to fight back tears talking about how much she has been embraced and how much the girls mean to her in the short time she has worked with them.
“These girls are amazing, they really are a gift that I never knew I needed,” said an emotional Graham. “I have 17 of the best, most talented girls that are hungry to make a name for themselves.
“They want to be on the mat and have put in such hard work since tryouts. If I’m five minutes early to practice, I can’t beat them, they are already there with mats rolled out.”
The love between team and coach is evident. Even last Friday during Callaway football’s scrimmage, the bond between coach and cheerleaders was clearly present.
“They killed it with everything we threw at them,” Graham said. “They didn’t have to think about a cheer or a dance. They threw out elite stunts in the air and hit every time.
“They brought the Cavs spirit for all four quarters.”
The bond between the athletes and coach has been quickly forged. Graham knew none of the girls before taking a job in the Callaway system, but it has been an easy transition thanks to the girls.
The Callaway spirit and competitive cheerleading programs will not be separate this year. It will be all one big program as Graham tries to build a real family atmosphere in her first year in charge.
“We combined the two because we are rebuilding a program, and we thought it would be best to build a family,” Graham said. “It was the best way for us all to spend time together and really bond as a team.
“When you have to separate teams, you can really lose that connection between girls.”
Graham has quickly made a strong connection with the student body at Callaway High. She quickly went on the recruiting trail early this year and had around 40 girls show up for tryouts, showing a rejuvenated interest among the Cavaliers.
“I had a parent meeting and expected about 30 people to show up, but we had around 60 in the meeting, and I ran out of copies,” Graham said. “It was so exhilarating and made me really think that we could do this.”
Graham uses we a lot to describe the leadership for the program because she is joined in this venture by assistant coach Ansley Callan, who will be a key figure in helping build the program back up.
Competition cheer will not truly ramp up until the team takes part in a meet at Troup on Sept. 16, but Graham already got to see the girls’ hard work pay off last Friday at Callaway’s football scrimmage. There is still a ways to go to get the program to where Graham wants it, but she could not be more pleased with the progress the program has made so far under her stewardship.