Most Valuable Cheerleader Cassie Shepherd of Ryle High School

March 9, 2011

Ryle High School Cheerleader Cassie Shepherd

Squad: Ryle High School Varsity
Hometown: Union, KY
Class Year: Senior
Age: 17
College Plans: University of Kentucky
Career Plans: Sports broadcasting and communications, or the field of engineering
Family: Mother, Father, and younger sister Mandy, also on Ryle’s Varsity squad.

GMCE logo 100pStory By Emily Mayers. Photography by Emily Thies Photography. Click here to see the whole shoot! Sponsored by the Greater Midwest Cheer Expo.

Before the first football game of her senior year, Ryle High School Varsity Cheerleading captain Cassie Shepherd agreed to an impromptu interview for (Scroll down to the end of the story to see Cassie in action!)

Asked about Ryle’s traditions and competitive goals for the year, Shepherd never hesitated, so professional and enthusiastic you might think she worked for the school’s public relations department. It was no surprise when her MVC nomination confirmed that she is indeed exceptional: Vice President of the Math Honors Society, Secretary of her senior class, and an athlete with enough skill and dedication to give her a shot at making the nationally renowned University of Kentucky cheerleading squad.

Arriving for her profile interview, Shepherd greeted me with a bright smile and big hug, and I felt firsthand the positive energy that had landed her on Ryle’s 2010 Homecoming court and the title of 1st runner up for Junior prom princess. Ryle High School Cheerleader Cassie Shepherd MVC

Asked her what made her want to be a cheerleader, she laughed and said she can barely remember back that far. She started cheerleading in about 3rd grade because her friends were doing it, and she quickly learned that she had a knack for tumbling. It didn’t take long for her to fall in love with cheering, and since she was little she has cheered for both school and all-star squads year-round. Today, her skills include a kick-double basket toss, a running full through to a full, and a standing handspring full.

However, athletics aren’t the only focus for Shepherd, who jokingly calls herself a “nerd.” Math is her favorite subject, and she has an accumulative GPA of 3.8 in her senior year. She has been a member of the National Honor Society for the past two years and is also a member of the National Hispanic Honor Society and the Future Business Leaders of America. Shepherd credits one program in particular for her aptitude for achievement: her school’s Gifted and Talented program for Leadership. She has been a member of this program for eight years.

This year, Cassie had to make a difficult decision: whether or not to return to her All-Star team at Premier Athletics of Northern Kentucky for her senior year. Although she always loves a chance to cheer, she really wanted an opportunity to focus on getting ready for cheerleading at the next level. On her All-Star cheer squad she would be a base, but opportunities at the collegiate level would require her to be a flyer. She decided she would use her extra time for her studies and work on improving the necessary skills for making the squad at the University of Kentucky.

Shepherd can be found working out in the gym every day after school. In order to get in UK cheerleader shape, she lifts weight, does a great deal cardio, and has private stunt lessons twice a week. It’s tough, Shepherd admits, to stay confident when approaching tryouts for her notoriously exclusive dream squad. Despite any doubts, though, she knows she has to go for it. She says she owes it to herself and to the people who have supported her to work as hard as she possibly can to achieve this dream. Even if she doesn’t make the squad, she will be happy knowing she gave it her best shot.

Shepherd emphasized that would not be where she is today without the support of her family. She describes her parents as the “ultimate cheer parents.” They are at every competition cheering her on, as well as helping her out with her exceedingly busy training schedule. Shepherd’s younger sister, Mandy, is also a part of Ryle High School’s cheerleading squad, and Cassie said it has been so much fun cheering with her in her final year at Ryle.

Watch Cassie’s interview in Ryle’s Meet the Squad feature here.

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