PCA senior McDaniel signs cheerleading scholarship with Hinds

Published 8:00 am Friday, March 22, 2019

Fayth McDaniel did not holler. She did, however, say she was all for the Eagles, stood up, and smiled.

McDaniel, a senior at Porter’s Chapel Academy, accepted a cheerleading scholarship with Hinds Community College during a ceremony in PCA’s cafeteria on Wednesday. It was the culmination of years of work, and months of effort to both get herself in top shape and gain the notice of college coaches.

“My coach always told me I could do anything I set my mind to. A big influence was Shelby (Barwick), who kind of got me in there,” McDaniel said, motioning to Hinds cheerleader and PCA alum Shelby Barwick, who attended the signing ceremony. “I wasn’t going to do it, but then one day I decided I was going to follow my dreams because I always thought it was a vague possibility. So I started getting in the gym, working really hard and sending videos to (Hinds cheer coach Ashley) Horne. I’m very blessed and honored to sign with Hinds. It’s a really big dream.”

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McDaniel is a “flyer,” the cheerleader who gets tossed in the air and held up at the top of pyramids during various routines. At 5 feet tall and 98 pounds, it’s a role she’s well suited for, and one she’s conquered some fears to master.

“They throw me up there and I do a bunch of stuff,” she said with a laugh. “The first couple of times I was freaking out. But you kind of get used to it. You get used to your co-ed person. Once you get used to that person you know if it’s a bad grip and if you’re going to fall. You just have to be tight and hope they catch you. You can’t be scared or you won’t make it.”

You also have to work hard, and McDaniel has done that, too.

Like other athletes, natural ability is only part of what goes into being a college cheerleader. McDaniel has been a gymnast for years, and in recent months she’s spent a lot of time in the gym to get stronger in her core muscles, arms and legs.

In competitive cheer, which involves a lot of fast-paced stunts and choreographed routines, being strong and in shape is essential to success.

“I’ve been in the gym every single day for probably three months. It’s very hard work. You have to be completely into it. If you’re not, you’re not going to make it at all,” said McDaniel, who also played on PCA’s softball and basketball teams. “Tumble and cheerleading has a lot to do with your mentality and your strength. You can’t be just like, ‘Oh yeah, let me do this.’ You have to go work out in the gym and get better by yourself. You have to want to be better. If you don’t, you’re just not going to succeed.”

She’s also been putting in work behind the scenes. Thanks to her connection to Barwick, she’s been able to work with Hinds’ cheerleaders. That helped her get noticed by Horne, and the coach also watched film that McDaniel sent her.
Horne said McDaniel’s work ethic and drive to improve, as much as her skill, made her a strong recruit for Hinds’ squad.

“She stunted with a lot of our guys, so I was able to watch a good bit of film and see her skill and technique in the air. I liked it and liked the work ethic. Even after I wanted her she was sending me film and asking, ‘How do I fix this? How do I make this better?’ So I’m excited to have her. She’s going to do great for us,” Horne said. “Body control is important, and then their technique in the air. It’s not an easy thing to stand on one leg, so that goes into it as well. She does a great job. I think she’s going to do well.”

About Ernest Bowker

Ernest Bowker is The Vicksburg Post's sports editor. He has been a member of The Vicksburg Post's sports staff since 1998, making him one of the longest-tenured reporters in the paper's 140-year history. The New Jersey native is a graduate of LSU. In his career, he has won more than 50 awards from the Mississippi Press Association and Associated Press for his coverage of local sports in Vicksburg.

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