London calling: Skyline cheerleader selected for big honor
December 24, 2013
New: Dec. 24, 1:16 p.m.
While many Americans will tune into the famous Tournament of Roses Parade on Jan. 1, Skyline High School senior Kailin Patterson will be on the other side of the globe performing in a similar event.
Patterson is one of more than 500 high-school cheerleaders and dancers from across the country chosen to perform in the London New Year’s Day Parade. She was selected as an All-American during a summer camp hosted by the Universal Cheerleaders Association.
The cheerleaders who are traveling to London represent the top 12 percent of participants in Varsity, a national organizational body for cheer and dance teams. UCA is one of Varsity’s five divisions.
Earning the trip was a big deal for Patterson. She was one of five Skyline cheerleaders selected for auditions by coach Stephania Gullikson, and she managed to make the cut as a top all-around athlete.
“They pick the top overall, what we consider to be All-American-type girls,” Gullikson explained. “The girls that have great motions, great showmanship, great jumps, can tumble, and kind of have that look that’s hard to describe – that confidence that comes out when they cheer, and their leadership that they portray.”
Patterson was also invited to a separate tryout to become a future UCA staff member. Her background in gymnastics – something she started when she was 2 – has translated into a successful cheerleading career.
“I learned a lot of my tumbling through gymnastics, and I learned body control, and it just kind of naturally corresponds,” Patterson said.
Skyline sent a cheerleader to London last year, too, Patterson said, so she’s familiar with the itinerary. The group will be in England for a week, and while they’ll have plenty of intense preparation, they’ll also get to be tourists, visiting sites like Big Ben and the London Eye.
UCA gave Patterson a DVD with three different cheer routines. She’ll have to learn each of them, although she won’t find out which one she’ll perform until she joins the traveling group.
“I’m not entirely sure how it works, but I’m hoping it’s not too difficult,” she said. “I don’t think it’ll be too bad, because I’ve done different parade routines at Skyline.”
The 51 athletes on this year’s Skyline squad selected four captains, and they couldn’t have chosen a more appropriate leader than Patterson, her coach said.
“She’s absolutely always on time, ready to go, positive attitude, works for the best of the team, and helps the other girls as they struggle through difficult things and hard times,” Gullikson said.
Cheerleading demands mental toughness, the coach said. Over the summer, Skyline regularly held two-a-day practices – four hours in the morning, two in the afternoon. That intensity helped Skyline qualify for the National High School Cheerleading Championship, held Feb. 8-9 in Orlando, Fla. The competition will be televised on ESPN and ESPN2.
Though the schedule scales back during school, the cheerleaders still have commitments like football and basketball games to keep track of.
“I don’t think I’d be able to do it if I didn’t like cheer as much as I do,” Patterson said. “You have to put so much effort into it, but it’s so rewarding.”
Patterson doesn’t slack in her academic commitments either. Her top college choices are Washington and UCLA. She’d like to continue cheering at the next level, and she plans to study medicine for a career as a pediatric surgeon.
“I have high standards for myself,” she said with a smile.
“She’s a model student, a great mentor, a good role model for the kids, and she’s very, very talented,” Gullikson added.