Squad: Northern Kentucky University All-Girl
High School: Notre Dame Academy, Park Hills
Activities: NKU’s Student-Athlete Advisory Committee, Florence Freedom baseball
Major: Nursing, with plans to become a labor and delivery nurse
Class Year: Junior
Jobs: Coldstone Creamery and Brother’s Restaurant, both in Newport; previously a UCA summer camp instructor
Photos by Shine Photography. (If you love these photos as much as I do, ask about setting up your own session with Shine! Liz does great work and shoots on location.) Styling by Sableux Salon & Spa. Photos taken at the Bank of Kentucky Center.
By Lindsay Kottmann
“You must be smart,” commented photographer Liz St. Onge.
She had just finished a photo shoot with cheerleader Carly Nessler, a junior at Northern Kentucky University, and Nessler had mentioned her major: nursing.
“No,” Nessler replied. “I just work really hard.”
It’s hard to deny that Carly Nessler works hard: How many 21-year-olds do you know who work two jobs to make their own house payments (yeah, she owns a house!) while keeping up with a difficult academic curriculum and a demanding cheerleading schedule? Handling that workload requires intelligence and commitment, and that’s why Carly Nessler is this month’s MVC.
“If I’m going to do something, I go all out and do it,” Nessler states simply. And that’s especially true of cheerleading. Nessler is a team leader who fights for every one of her stunts as a base on NKU’s all-girl squad, notes coach Adena Luehrmann, and she always stays positive. She knows how important it is to stick every stunt in a competition, so she does the same in practice. “If I’m going to take the energy to get it up there, it’s going to stay up there,” she says.
Oh, and if you’re a flyer, you’ll love Carly Nessler. She’ll catch you even if it means a broken nose or cheekbone, both of which she has endured while stunting. “I tell my flyers, whatever happens, fall on me. You won’t hit the ground,” she says.
Nessler was just as tough when she was little. “I actually wanted to play football, and my mom wouldn’t let me,” she says. She figured if she couldn’t play, she could at least watch as a cheerleader. That was around age 6, and she hasn’t stopped cheering yet.
In high school, Nessler played volleyball and cheered for the Cincinnati Elite All-Stars at Premier Athletics. She was influential in starting NKU’s all-girl team, now in its first year. Nessler almost missed competing at camp this summer because of a knee injury that she sustained — not in cheerleading — but while playing soccer with younger girls as part of a volunteer activity. She was on crutches for four months, but recovered just in time to help her squad place third in taping at UCA summer camp, landing them a partial paid bid to nationals in Orlando, Fla. starting Jan. 15.
This is no rec squad: Nessler is a defending national champ (2007, UCA, Division II Small Co-Ed — with the ring and the trophy to prove it!) and she’s been attending two-a-day practices for weeks in preparation for this year’s nationals. Among other stunts in the routine, she’s the center of a double cupie, holding up two flyers. All NKU cheerleaders have the word “believe” written on their shoes, and Carly also has the verse Philippians 4:13: “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.”
From her cheerleading performance to her independence and pride in her work, Nessler indeed has many strengths.
To see NKU’s squads in action, check out Premier Athletics’ 2nd Annual College Showcase on Monday, Jan. 11 at 7 p.m. Both NKU squads will perform, along with squads from Morehead State University, Eastern Kentucky University and University of Kentucky. Admission is $3 per adult, $1 per student, and free for children 3 and under.