Cartersville athlete Caroline Bagwell will spend most of the next phase of her athletic career on the sidelines after she signed to cheer for Jacksonville State in a ceremony at the Cartersville Media Center Thursday.
“I’m really excited,” Bagwell said. “We’ve already started practicing a little bit with the team, and it’s just, like, really nervewracking. I’m ready to get over there and get started.”
Bagwell also played basketball and soccer for the Lady Canes, but cheerleading has been her passion since she started in fourth grade.
She started cheering competitively two years after that, won a state championship for the Lady Canes her sophomore year, and now is upping the difficulty again.
“At Jacksonville they do competitions and football games, basketball games and volleyball games,” Bagwell said.
That time commitment, along with studying—Bagwell is undecided, but thinking about going into nursing—and practice, is a big step up from cheering in high school.
“It’s a lot, and we try to let everybody know at their interviews about the amount of dedication it takes because they have study halls, they have workouts, along with cheering at all the games that we cheer at,” JSU cheer coach Dave Almeida said. “The ones that are completely dedicated and are really good at time management succeed in the program and the ones that don’t, don’t really stick around that long.”
Bagwell is determined to be one of the ones that do stick around.
“I hope to stay on the team for all four years and maybe be captain by my senior year and yeah, just stay in it and get better,” Bagwell said.
Almeida’s staff first noticed Bagwell when she attended some of their clinics early in 2017. Her performances there were enough to get her on their radar, and she clinched a spot on the team with a tryout performance soon after.
Bagwell was also considering North Georgia and Mississippi State, but JSU was the Goldilocks fit for her—just right.
“I decided that I didn’t want to go to North Georgia because it was just too small, and Mississippi State was just way too far away,” Bagwell said.
The Gamecocks cheer squads—they have two, one all-female and one coed—are consistently among the best teams in the country competing in the NCA, finishing fifth in the intermediate coed I division at last year’s nationals.
As they push for the championship, Bagwell will be hoping to regain the feeling she had her sophomore year, when she was a member of the Lady Canes team that was crowned state champion after pulling out a narrow win over Carrollton.
“It was crazy,” Bagwell said. “We worked really hard for it and we knew that we were close with Carrollton that year. We didn’t know who it was going to be and when they called our name out on the floor, I can’t describe the feeling. It was so good.”
If Bagwell can help bring that championship feeling to JSU, Almeida’s enthusiasm over his new signing will certainly be justified.
“We’re just super excited to get her, we’re super excited to see what she has in the future, how she’s going to really shine here,” Almeida said.