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Taking spirit to a new level
Mention the word "cheerleading" to 16-year-old Chance Albee and his face lights up with an effervescent smile and a twinkle comes to his eye.
His reaction is not unlike that of many boys his age, but Albee's enthusiasm comes from a different place. While some males may ogle cheerleaders when the game gets dull or because their hormones have minds of their own, cheering is anything but a spectator sport for the Corning High junior.
That's because he's smack-dab in the center of the excitement.
Albee is not only a cheerleader for Corning Union High School, but is also a member of the Chico Cheer All Stars - a program that last year captured the International Championship title in the competition held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.
Although a relatively new member of the Chico squad, Albee hopes the national exposure helps springboard him into a college scholarship.
"I've always been interested in dancing," Albee explained regarding his introduction to cheerleading. "I tried out for the "Corning High" drill team, but when I didn't make it the coach said I should try out for cheerleading."
Not only did he make the team as its only male member, but was often the centerpiece of routines where he showcased his considerable dance skills during halftime performances at Cardinal football games.
"I made it and completely fell in love with it," Albee gushed. I wish I had started this years ago, I love everything about it."
He said that once the Corning season ended, a friend whose niece cheers with the Chico troupe told him there was an opening. "The positions are normally filled in May, but the coach called me (in October) because somebody had dropped out and asked me if I wanted to do it."
Albee said that it is a lot different than high school cheerleading, and that males are called on to do the stunts that require more strength. But his skill set includes much more than muscle, as he also does all the tumbling the females do.
The exposure and he experience he will get with Chico is what he hopes causes people to take notice. "At Chico, they'll have people (with college programs) at the competitions; I'm hoping for a scholarship."
His talents don't come about by accident, as Albee insists he eats, sleeps and breathes cheerleading.
"I have practice three days a week and five hours total, and can also go to optional Saturday practices," Albee remarked. "I'm also constantly listening to music - counting it out and marking it out - or going online and looking up other routines. It's 24/7, if I'm not practicing I'm at least thinking about it."
To be sure, he's more than aware of some people's pre-conceived notions of what cheerleading is and who should be doing it, " but he doesn't let that deter him from staying focused on his goals.
After taking a holiday break for family time, Albee will begin visiting local businesses Jan. 2 to try to raise the funds for the trip to Orlando.
As for what he would tell another boy who asked him about cheerleading, Albee responded without a moment's hesitation, "Don't think about what others might think. You'll enjoy it. It's so much fun, it's an amazing experience. Do what you love."
CONTACT Craig Purcell at 824-1036 or firstname.lastname@example.org.