Proviso East High School is known for its rich basketball program, but there’s another sport with a rich and winning tradition at the Maywood school — cheerleading.
Twenty Proviso East cheerleaders attended the University of Cheer Association (UCA) camp at Illinois State University July 9 through July 12 and three achieved the coveted All-America distinction, said East Cheerleading Coach Laura “Cee Cee” Burrell-Mobley.
The three All-America cheerleaders — Aniyah Redmond, 16, Kennedi James, 15, and Anaiyah Jones, 15 — each won trips to either Hawaii or London. Burrell-Mobley said she’s pushing for them to go to Hawaii.
The trip is scheduled Dec. 4 through Dec. 9, she said. The coach added that the program has the option to take the team, if the school and their parents allow them to make the trip. She said she hopes to take at least four girls.
“For any cheerleader to get [All-America] out of 400 girls at a camp is a big deal,” Burrell-Mobley said. “We got three that came out on top. I’m very proud.”
She said it was a community-wide effort to get the 20 girls to the UCA camp. A vigorous fundraising push allowed her to foot the bill for cheerleaders who needed financial assistance in order to make the camp.
“The community came behind us and really pushed for us to send the girls,” the coach said. “When I asked for donations, people just came right out and said, ‘Yes, we want to help these girls.’ It was amazing.”
Burrell-Mobley said her program is no stranger to success at cheerleading camps. She’s taken her cheerleaders to the gatherings for at least 17 years. This year, she said, she wants the community to know just what the camp does for the girls.
“It’s not any shucking and jiving when we go,” she said. “We have to bring this stuff back and show them what we’re doing.”
Jones, who attends Proviso Math and Science Academy, said this was her second time earning All-American status. She said there’s a lot of work that goes into securing the honor.
“You have to be dedicated to doing what you want to do and have a lot of spirit, constantly,” Jones said. “And then once you get back into laying down that’s when we have the time to crash, but we know the next day no matter how tired, no matter what hurts, you have to push in order to get far.”
James and Redmond, her fellow All-Americans, echoed the sentiment.
“Camp was a really fun experience, but a lot of work,” said James. “We learned a lot of new cheers and had to remember them.”
When asked what it means to be an All-American, Redmond exuded confidence.
“It means that I work hard and put a lot of work into perfecting my performance and I know that I have the skills to be all-American,” she said.