Two Troup cheerleaders named to GCCA team of the year

Published 6:09 pm Friday, August 11, 2023

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Competitive spirit. 

Both Mary Joy Moosman and Catherine Smalley have it. The two senior competitive cheerleaders for Troup High have been honored in a huge way, earning a spot on the Georgia Cheerleading Coaches Association team of the year. 

“Being awarded and selected for something like this really builds your confidence,” Moosman said.

The two earned one of the top 16 spots at the competition on Aug. 5 at Columbus State University. 

“I was the last one to get called for the final 16,” Smalley said. “I was really scared and shaking in my boots and I felt like I wasn’t going to get it and started to humble myself, but when they called my name it felt like a huge relief.”

The two had to prepare their own routines for their individual performances on Saturday. The two each assembled their own stunt team, but had to be the star of the show.

“It was difficult because you had to design a whole routine by yourself and you select the music,” Smalley said. “The only time you were out there with other cheerleaders was for the stunts part.”

Both designed their individual routines around what they knew as well as absorbing routines and styles from videos as well as their peers. Moosman even used a bit of freestyle for her dance routine, making up as she went along.

“I never did the same thing twice,” she said, laughing. “I could never remember it exactly. It wasn’t go, go, go. You had time to breathe and it was easy to recover if you made a mistake because it was just you out there and you didn’t have to worry about messing up timing with anybody else.”

Moosman and Smalley come from completely different cheer backgrounds with the former cheering all four years in high school while the latter transitioned from softball to the mats during her junior year. Smalley cheered in her youth and relied on her gymnastics background to find her groove once again on the mat. 

While the two come from different cheer backgrounds, they have similar roles on the Troup cheerleading team with both serving as bases on their respective stunt squad. 

Both are also very student athletes. The two prioritize academics which is one of the requirements to be selected among the 30 finalists for the team of the year competition. To even be eligible to apply for team of the year, you have to have a GPA of at least 3.5, which both of these ladies do. 

The two also had to write out an essay and get multiple recommendations. Both were selected two be among the top 30 and compete on Aug. 5 out of over 150 applicants. 

“We both have around a 3.8,” Smalley said. “It’s a big process to apply and see if we can make that top 30.”

Now, Moosman and Smalley will be honored at the state competition in November at the Columbus Civic Center. But, both have eyes on taking home some other awards at that competition. 

“We want to win the state,” Smalley said. “Even though this is just my second year, I am confident we can compete.

“Last year, we got seventh and we were only two or three points away from getting called down to the mat to compete as a top six team.It was heartbreaking to be so close, so one of our goals this year is to not be close, but to be with the other top teams that get called down.”

The program has high aspirations this year and Moosman and Smalley are two of the main reasons why. They are now leaders on the team and are confident that they can build on last year’s seventh place finish at state.

Moosman knows what it was like to be a freshman that looked up to senior cheerleaders which is why she takes her role as a senior leader on this team so seriously. 

“We’ve had to take on more of a leadership role this year,” she said. “We have to make sure we are not breaking down under stress, because we have to set the standard for the younger girls and that can be difficult sometimes.”

Through this whole process, and their cheer careers at Troup in general, coach Amelia Key has been there for both girls.

“She has been very supportive,” Moosman said. “Her daughter did it and she has had past cheerleaders do it, so she knew what it would take to get selected and really supported us getting there.

“She was constantly reassuring us.”

Moosman and Smalley have been on the mat all summer preparing for the competition season and they are itching for it to be here with the first competition for Troup still over a month away. In the meantime, the two will relish in their individual performances while still working to perfect their team routine heading into the 2023-24 season.