Thirty-five girls ranging in age from 3 to 12 years old got their chance to be cheerleaders at halftime of Payson’s varsity football game against Round Valley on Friday, Oct. 1.

They’d attended a two-day clinic on Tuesday, Sept. 28 and Wednesday, Sept. 29 to learn the routine.

And they delighted fans as they joined the PHS varsity and JV cheerleaders on the field.

One girl walked off the field in the middle of the performance.

And even that was cute.

“It’s just something that happens when they’re overwhelmed and not ready for the process,” said PHS varsity cheer coach Tonya Wilson. “It’s not a bad thing.”

Wilson said the 35 girls participating are the most she’s seen. It’s her first year as varsity head coach, but she’s been around the program with her daughter, Maya, who is a senior on the cheer team.

“I took my daughter to it when she was probably 6 or 7,” the coach said of the Lil’ Longhorns camps.

So, some of these girls will grow up to be varsity cheerleaders.

And this experience may let them know whether it’s something they want to continue in or not.

“My daughter always knew at a young age that she wanted to be a cheerleader,” Wilson said. “She also participated in youth football cheerleading and in middle school.”

The Lil’ Longhorns camp and performance gives girls a chance to try it out and see if it’s for them.

“I was extremely impressed with all of them — with their attention span and just the way that they were engaged with my cheerleaders and able to learn the routines so quickly,” Wilson said. “They were very well-behaved. You know, when you get 35 little girls together, that’s sometimes hard to keep them all engaged and focused. I was extremely impressed with how focused they were.”

Of course, the varsity cheerleaders enjoyed the experience as well.

“I think they enjoyed it tremendously,” Wilson said. “I think they liked being looked up to, that kind of thing.”

It was similar to the way Payson Elementary School students treated them.

“During spirit week for homecoming, I took the girls over to PES and those kids just treated them like they were celebrities. They thought they were just so cool and could do so many cool tricks — they were fascinated by the girls. I think that’s such an impressionable age and they look up to my girls they think maybe this is something I can do and maybe they continue on with that.”

The cost for the Lil’ Longhorns Cheer Camp was $35 per child and includes a T-shirt and the hair ties they made with the help of the cheer squad to wear during the performance.

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