8 local cheerleaders make Big 33 squads

Shayla Milligan

HARRISBURG — When we consider the Big 33 Football Classic that brings together the best high school football players in the area, we tend to focus on the young men in helmets.

This year’s 60th annual event features eight local high school girls who will cheer on the sidelines as part of the Pennsylvania and Maryland squads.

Big 33 kicks off today at 7 p.m. at Central Dauphin Middle School’s Landis Field.

Thirty-three girls are chosen to be on each team from among 120 who tried out at the end of 2016.

Local girls representing high school or non-high school all-star squads include:

Haley Wilkinson

≤ Jordyn Arnold, of East Juniata High School, and cheering on the Maryland squad;

≤ Greenwood High School student Miranda Fawver representing the All Star Squad from Newport, also cheering on Maryland squad;

≤ Mifflin County High school students Shayla Milligan and Haley Wilkinson cheering on the Pennsylvania squad;

≤ Juniata High School students Kiersten Clark, Hannah Welfley and Lily Brown cheering on the Pennsylvania squad;

≤Juniata High School student Shelby Zeiders representing the All Star Squad from Newport, cheering on the Maryland squad.

Hannah Welfley

Emilee Wagner cheered with Big 33 in 2016 and said the girls attending this year’s event are in for a great experience.

“Big 33 was a great experience for anyone who loves to cheer or just meet new people. You’re surrounded by great girls that have the same love of cheerleading that you do. These are girls that you’ll share a lifetime friendship with. It was a good cheer experience because you have a whole new range of girls and new leaders. It’s almost as if you are cheering for the first time, which is great feeling.”

Angie Clark is a former cheer coach for Juniata High School and is returning to the Big 33 as a PA Buddy Cheer Coach.

“Buddies” are assigned to each participant to practice a special routine. These “buddies” are individuals with disabilities who may otherwise not have such an opportunity. Clark helps the cheerleaders work with their buddy and learn their routine.

She is also the mom of attending cheerleader Kiersten Clark, of JHS.

Lily Brown

Cheerleaders try out for a spot in December and demonstrate their ability to do jumps, tumbles and stunts. The cheerleader must have a good academic standing, with a grade point average no lower than 2.5. She must have a clean record with her school and no history of alcohol or drug abuse, and demonstrate respect for authority.

The highlight of the event, though, Clark and Wagner both emphasized, is the buddy experience.

“It is just the best part,” Clark said. Because of her prior experience as a coach, Clark was able to bring daughter Kiersten along to Big 33 events in the past. Kiersten quickly made friends with a young lady from Lebanon who was a “buddy” to a participant. The girls have been friends since Kiersten, who recently graduated JHS, was an eighth grader. This year the Lebanon girl is to be Kiersten’s buddy for the day.

The buddy system exists for the football players as well.

For more information, visit www.big33.org.

Kiersten Clark

Jordyn Arnold

Shelby Zeiders

Miranda Fawver