Ashtyn Edenfield only spent one season with the Adairsville High cheer team, but her impact was immediate and significant.
The recent AHS graduate helped the Tigers place sixth in Class 3A last fall, and now, she’s set to be the program’s first collegiate cheerleader during Kaylie Noe’s tenure, joining the competition and sideline cheer squads at Kennesaw State.
“Ashtyn is a phenomenal cheerleader, a phenomenal young woman,” Noe said. “They definitely lucked out in getting her.”
Noe and Adairsville were also lucky in getting her to join the Tigers in 2018. A cheerleader since she was roughly 5 years old after begging her mother to take her to a cheer practice, Edenfield brought all-around technical ability to the team, but as a veteran to the sport, she provided valuable insight to her teammates, most of whom were rather inexperienced.
“Her stunting, jumping and tumbling skills were spot-on,” Noe said. “But honestly, I think more important than that, she brought a strong sense of leadership and really helped build the confidence of some of our other girls. They trusted her and respected her opinion. I think that was probably more valuable than her skillset, which we also appreciated.”
That leadership provided by Edenfield and her fellow 12th-graders proved crucial to helping Adairsville overcome a slow start to the season to peak at the right time, including a third-place finish in sectionals ahead of the sixth-place showing at state.
“It was vital,” Noe said of the seniors’ impact. “Without that kind of leadership, I think it would have been easy for some of our younger girls to make bad habits or not be able to really embrace the season the way that they did. Without Ashtyn and our other seniors, of course, I think it would have been a much different season.”
Edenfield greatly appreciated her time spent with the Adairsville program and enjoyed seeing her team persevere through the tough times.
“We worked really, really hard, and no matter what came our way, we pushed through,” Edenfield said. “I will always remember that, because I only did that cheer team for one season because of time and I couldn’t afford it. The one season I did do it was very memorable, and I built a lot of friendships through that.”
The transition from high school athletics to the collegiate level is a difficult one for a multitude of reasons. One of those is a lack of familiarity with new teammates.
That shouldn’t be an issue for Edenfield, who will join an Owls program with which she is already quite familiar and was considered her "No. 1 choice."
“I’ve been cheering in Kennesaw for five years now,” Edenfield said. “I just really liked the atmosphere and the people I cheer with. Their head coach actually works at the gym that I cheered at, and I really like him, so I wanted to cheer there.”
She added, “I think that will make it a lot more comfortable. … I’ve cheered with a lot of the girls already that I’m going to be on the team with. That’s exciting, because I don’t have to lose those friendships and we know how to work together already.”
Even with her experience with people in the program, Edenfield still needed to traverse a challenging tryout process. Afterwards, Edenfield felt pretty confident she would make the team, and that’s exactly what she did.
“I was just really grateful, because I’ve been cheering literally my whole life,” Edenfield said. “I always wanted to cheer collegiately.”
Even after achieving her lifelong goal, Edenfield remained grounded about the accomplishment, showcasing those qualities that made her an asset for Adairsville in her lone season with the Tigers.
“She was so humble about the whole situation,” Noe said. “… Me and Amber Benefield, the other [Adairsville] coach, we were both so incredibly excited for her.
"She knew all along that she wanted to pursue cheerleading at the collegiate level but wasn’t 100% sure where she wanted to go. For her to take the leap and try out for a program like KSU and make it, we were just over the moon for her.”