From Staff, DSC Reports
By now, Dalton State College cheerleading coach Robyn Newell could probably draw a fairly accurate map of Whitfield County.
At the least, she could give good directions to most of the high schools inside the county’s border.
As the Roadrunners prepare for their first season of support and competition for Dalton State’s relaunched athletics program, Newell has signed student-athletes from Coahulla Creek, Dalton, Northwest Whitfield and Southeast Whitfield. This past week alone, she attended scholarship ceremonies at three of the four schools, signing Southeast’s Karina Sandoval on Monday, Dalton’s Madison Ellis on Wednesday and Coahulla Creek’s Ashley Lovain and Alex Martin on Thursday.
With cheerleaders from other Northwest Georgia high schools also on the list of those signed, Newell is making progress on her goal of signing 30 to 40 squad members for the first year’s roster. The number of signees was in the mid-20s this past week, and Newell hasn’t had to travel far in some instances to grow that group.
She’s found an eager recruiting ground near the Roadrunners’ home.
“Once you’re out of high school, the athletes are looking for a place to go,” Newell said. “They’re typically feeling like they have to say goodbye to the athletic activity that they’ve been involved with for so long. But now that they’re offering that at Dalton State, they’re more tempted to stay in a place that they can represent and stay with their roots, where their family is.”
And, Newell added, the area “is just packed with talent.”
While the roster will have up to 40 squad members who may all participate in spirit squad functions — such as cheering on the men’s basketball team that begins play this year — 23 will make the roster for the competition squad, with 16 of those on the floor at any given time.
Lovain and Martin will both bring competition squad experience from their high school days at Coahulla Creek, which opened in 2011. Both were cheerleaders the past two years, and both filled important roles for Lady Colts coach Sasha Raborn — Lovain was a captain for the basketball and competition squads this past school year, while Martin was a captain for the basketball, competition and football squads the past two years.
When it came to competition, Lovain was a flyer, while Martin was a base.
“(Martin) played a vital leadership role on our team, and her tumbling skill level and stunting was something that other girls could look up to, so she definitely played a vital part in that area,” Raborn said. “There are two captains per squad, and she was voted on by the girls to be one of the captains for each of the squads.
“She was very well-liked and respected, and she was always the one that pushed all the other girls to show up and do their best. She’s got a winning personality and always goes out there wanting to win, which I appreciated.”
Raborn is bidding farewell to a longtime cheerleading pupil with Lovain’s graduation.
“She was one of the very first cheerleaders I ever taught,” Raborn said. “Six years ago, she was on my very first team at Westside Middle School. I coached her in seventh and eighth grade, and she was one of my very first flyers. She worked very, very hard once she went to high school to increase her flexibility skill level. She had one of the highest skill levels of any flyer I’ve ever worked with.”
Raborn also shared a sentiment that Dalton coach Tami Fleming and Southeast coach Kali Cline both expressed this past week — the presence of Dalton State’s cheerleading program has the potential to raise the profile of area high school programs and offer motivation to prep squad members to work hard in anticipation of opportunities to continue cheering at the next level.
“To have something local to push our girls and that be a goal for their future, that’s a huge thing for competition in our area,” Raborn said. “I hope because (Dalton State is) starting their program, it will help girls realize high school doesn’t have to be their end goal.”
Both cheerleaders are excited about the opportunity awaiting them with the Roadrunners.
“I’m really excited,” Martin said. “It’s wonderful to have the opportunity to continue my education and my love of cheerleading at a school here at home.”
Said Lovain, “It’s a great opportunity for me to be close to my family and to follow my dreams of cheerleading at the college level. I’m really, really pumped about it.”
Lovain is the daughter of Jaime Smith and Joe Lovain of Rocky Face. She has a 15-year-old sister, Ali Lovain.
Martin is the daughter of Jessica and Jason Patterson of Tunnel Hill. Her siblings are Ainslee Martin, 15, Jaci Patterson, 12, and Aiden Patterson, 8.
• ROAD(TRAIL)RUNNERS: North Cobb High School’s Mikayla Moran signed with Dalton State’s women’s cross country program this week.
“I chose Dalton State because it’s a new program and I love the school in general,” said Moran, who was a four-year member of North Cobb’s cross country and track and field teams.
Roadrunners coach Margie Bruner continues to add depth to the roster.
“The most exciting thing about Mikayla is her love for running and her desire to be competitive,” Bruner said.
Mikayla, who plans to study psychology at Dalton State, is the daughter of Cindy and Mike Moran of Acworth. She has a 9-year-old brother, Jake.
For more on Dalton State College athletics, visit dsroadrunners.com.