Squad: Midwest Cheer Elite Diamond Kats
Class Year: Senior
Job: Coaches the Kittens (a mini squad at Midwest Cheer Elite)
After Graduation Plans: Cosmetology School
An Unstoppable Athlete
By Lindsay Kottmann
A few years ago, Alexa Baker’s older brother’s soccer team was short a player, and they asked her to fill in. Many high school girls would have been terrified, but not Baker. She got in the game and dominated it.
Baker, now 18, is an amazing and versatile athlete. That’s why some of her friends were confused when she decided to quit soccer and softball to perform on three cheerleading squads. “Why would you want to do cheerleading instead of a real sport?” they asked.
Don’t worry, Baker set them straight.
There’s no way she’d be satisfied with anything that didn’t require superior athletic skills. A senior on Midwest Cheer Elite’s Diamond Kats, Baker’s favorite tumbling pass is a punch front tuck, round-off back-handspring double full. Described by her coach as one of the best bases on the squad, she can also fly on request. After her MVC photoshoot, she pulled a heelstretch double-down just for fun, sticking it on the first try.
Maybe cheerleading is just in Baker’s blood. She’s been a cheerleader since kindergarten, and she was doing flips into the pool before she’d even learned to swim. She loves the adrenaline rush she gets from competing and is proud of the trips she has taken to the International All-Star Federation’s Worlds competition. (The draining, two-a-day practices in the Florida heat are among the toughest times she’s had as an athlete, she says.)
But the main reason she chose cheerleading over other sports was the atmosphere of her cheer gym. To her, it’s more of a family than a team. And along those lines, she’s honest with her teammates and isn’t afraid to call them out if they aren’t working hard.
“Not in a bossy way,” Baker clarifies. For example, she remembers one practice when teammates were getting frustrated and bickering during a stunt, and she pulled some of them aside. The practice was hard for everyone, she told them. But they needed to pull together as a team and get through it.
She doesn’t mind being the one to step up and take charge. “Winning is worth it,” she says.
Midwest Coach “Big Dog” Harper calls Baker one of the most vocal leaders on a Senior Level 5 squad with many “great seniors,” and notes that a lot of her teammates have a healthy fear of her. “She’s a strong-willed lady,” he says. “She’s determined. She doesn’t let people tell her she can’t do something.”
According to Baker, the most important qualities in being a good cheerleader are a good attitude, hard work and dedication. “If you’re not dedicated, you’re not going to get anywhere,” she adds.
Dedication is something that Baker has demonstrated the past few years in particular, when she faced adversity in her personal life. “She didn’t let it get to her,” Harper says. “She just tried to be positive and kept going.”
The Diamond Kats will compete at Worlds in Orlando beginning April 24, 2010. See them in action!