By Shannon J. Allen
Sand Mountain Reporter
The Sardis High varsity cheerleading squad’s outstanding 2017 senior class produced four girls who will continue their careers in college.
Amberly Sampson signed with Snead State in late April, while Madeline Young, Alyssa Ellis and Madison Chastain signed with the University of Montevallo in late May.
All four cheerleaders helped Sardis win back-to-back UCA regional championships and earn three straight bids to the National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Fla. The Lady Lions won the 2014 Southern Regional and the 2015 North Alabama Regional. In addition, Sardis was the 2014 AHSAA Class 4A state runner-up and won the 2015 Class 4A state championship during the girls’ careers.
All four served as team captains while cheering for the Lady Lions.
Snead State head cheer coach Adam Rhoden is an instructor for the Sardis cheerleaders, so he was familiar with Sampson and knows that she has the caliber of work ethic he likes to see in Parson cheerleaders.
“Amberly worked hard at tryouts,” Rhoden said. “She is an excellent student-athlete. She will be a valuable contributor to our game-day atmosphere at Snead State.”
Sampson cheered at Sardis for three years and ACE of Rainsville for two years.
“I am so excited to be able to continue doing something I love in college, and especially somewhere close to home,” Sampson said. “One of my favorite memories as a Sardis cheerleader is when we won the state championship and all of our hard work had paid off. Another favorite memory is from ACE when we won The One National Championship in New Orleans both years.”
Montevallo is an NCAA Division II school. The Falcons are returning to the Gulf South Conference beginning with the 2017-18 school year.
Montevallo cheer coach Jill Honeycutt took over the program in May.
Young was a Sardis cheerleader for 12 years, from grades 7-12 and six years for the community’s peewee program.
“As a little girl it was always a dream to be a college cheerleader,” Young said. “So to have the chance to live my dream is more than I could ever ask for. My favorite Sardis cheering memory has to be the moment we were announced 4A state champions. In that moment, I was nothing but proud to be a Sardis cheerleader. Finally, all the hard work that we put in paid off. It was an amazing experience, and I am so grateful that God blessed me with the ability to have been a part of the Sardis cheer squad.”
Ellis cheered for Sardis from grades 7-12. She also is excited about what her future holds at Montevallo.
“Cheering has been with me throughout my life for as long as I can remember,” Ellis said. “Having the opportunity to take it to the next step is the moment I have dreamed of for so long. As a cheerleader, you watch college teams daily and cannot help but wish to have the chance all of those athletes have had. I’m thankful to have been a part of the cheer program at Sardis for six years.
“There have been numerous memorable moments over that period of time. However, being the 2015 North Alabama Regional champions, state champions and competing at nationals for the first time all in one year is something I could never forget. Being able to accomplish something like that with my teammates, coach and even community is a true blessing.”
Chastain cheered for Sardis for six years.
“Cheering in college has always been a dream of mine,” she said. “I am so thankful that I have been given the opportunity to cheer for the University of Montevallo. My favorite memories of cheering at Sardis would have to be working really hard with my teammates and being the North Alabama Regional champions and 4A state champions in 2015.”
Kendall Tankersley is entering her fourth season as Sardis’ varsity cheer coach. A Sardis graduate, she was a varsity cheerleader for the Lions from 2001-05. Her mother Suzanne Hollen was Sardis’ varsity cheer coach from 1997-2007 and coached her daughter for four years.
“These girls are incredibly hard working, dedicated and great leaders,” said Tankersley. “They never give up. When they want something, they work for it until they achieve it. They were all tremendous assets to our squad and ones I could always count on.”
Tankersley said as far as she’s aware, Sardis has never had three cheerleaders sign in one year with the same four-year university.
“We have had multiple signees at Snead State and other four-year universities like JSU, Shorter and UAB,” Tankersley said. “However, three going to Montevallo together is unique.”
Tankersley said one of her goals is to build her program so that cheerleaders and coaches around the country know the name Sardis.
“We have some great programs in this area that have national notoriety and have achieved national success, like Boaz and Sparkman, to name a couple. “I want the hard work and heart these girls put in on a daily basis to be rewarded. The fact that these girls were recruited at a competition tells me we are headed in the right direction.”