Two locals to perform at halftime of Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. on Jan. 1

LEWISTOWN – Two sisters who are cheerleaders at Mifflin County High School have been selected to perform in the halftime show during the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. on Jan. 1.

Whitney Swenson, 18, a senior, and Samantha Sheaffer, 14, a freshman, both auditioned through Elite Cheerleading Cheer Camp for a spot on the All American Cheer squad. The tryout consisted of two cheers, with one being a silent cheer, the other requirement was a jump, with an optional tumble. Both beat the minimum qualifying score of 20, and will be cheering with many others from all over the country.

“I am very nervous, since this is my first time,” Whitney said. “While I have performed in front of different sized crowds, this will be the first one at this caliber.”

Samantha agreed with her sister saying, “This is just a really big deal to have the opportunity for me to grow as a cheerleader.”

The girls were among seven others who tried out. All but one made the team, but they are the only two that are going. Jennifer Sheaffer, mother of the girls, said the cost keeps others away.

“The cost not only deters those who make the team, but it prevents some from even wanting to try out,” Jennifer said.

The cost for each of them to have a spot is $300, then two more payments are due later. The production company ESP does offer fundraising and letters of sponsorship, to help those who make the team raise the funds needed. Jeniffer said that they raised most of the money through sponsorship letters, sent to friends and family.

“Our family and friends were very generous,” Jennifer said. “Kish Bank even sent us a donation.”

The girls are looking forward to the opportunity to cheer with others from around the country. Whitney said she is looking forward to the overall experience, while Samantha hopes to discover new ways to learn cheers from others who have more experience than she does. Travis Sheaffer, father of the two, said he is excited to be seeing them do this together, since Whitney will be going to college next year. Whitney wants to attend Penn College, and try out for Penn State’s Competitive Cheer Team. While Samantha is only a freshman, she would like to attend The Louisiana State University and cheer for them, while hopefully majoring in criminal justice.

Samantha said it is hard to prepare for something like this because you do not know your position until you get to rehearsal. Whitney added that not being able to practice is what really makes the two of them nervous.

The family plans on driving down to Florida for the event, which will last six days. It includes trips to Walt Disney World and Universal Orlando, along with the scheduled rehearsals.

Whitney would like to thank Collete Bender, Kirsten Walker, and the entire varsity cheer team for their continued support. Samantha would like to thank Jess Geisinger, Mackenzie Walker and the entire junior high cheer team for their continued support.

The Capital One Bowl will air at 1 p.m. on Jan. 1 on TV on ABC and online at ESPN3, with No. 19 Wisconsin to meet No. 8 South Carolina at Citrus Bowl Stadium in Orlando, Fla.