When it came to college choices, Lexi Chastine had no interest in Young Harris College.
But on Thursday, when she signed a combination academic and cheerleading scholarship with the school near picturesque Brasstown Bald in Northeast Georgia — the state’s highest point — the Dalton High School senior could credit a botched French test for helping her make a smart choice.
“I wasn’t going to go to Young Harris even for a visit,” Chastine said.
“I was totally against it. But I lost a bet with my dad. I went on a visit and just fell in love with it.”
The bet was over a grade on a French test. Chastine didn’t meet her father Brandon’s standard, so off on a visit she went.
Now, the flyer and tumbler who trains locally at the Creative Arts Guild in Dalton will take her talents — skills that helped Dalton to a top-six finish in the Class 4A state cheerleading competition and a second-place finish at state sectionals this past season — to a higher level.
And Young Harris’ gain is the University of West Georgia’s loss.
“I had went and cheered at a tryout at West Georgia, and that was my No. 1 choice,” Chastine said. “But I wasn’t as interested after I visited Young Harris.”
In her role with the Lady Catamounts, Chastine was used primarily as a base in formations and during competitions. However, she is anxious to return to a flyer role in college. She is also looking forward to working on a full-time basis with her first coed squad.
“We’ve already done a few things, and it has gone a lot better than I thought it would,” Chastine said of working with males. “They can definitely throw me up there a long ways. There are some crazy skills they have us practicing.”
With the higher basket tosses and toss-to-hand maneuvers that college cheerleaders execute, Chastine also knows there is a greater risk of injury. But it is something she has become used to experiencing.
“There have been times when I have fallen on my face, and numerous times were I have flat-out busted it,” she said. “Knock on wood, I haven’t broken any bones.”
Dalton cheerleading coach Tami Fleming is sure Chastine will continue to excel.
“I expect a lot out of her future,” Fleming said. “She is incredibly talented and a well-rounded and grounded teenager. When she gets to college, I expect her to blossom and grow. She was one of the stronger team leaders. Lexi found her place among nine seniors and was really good for our younger cheerleaders.”