It’s a good thing because she’ll be doing both next year for the University of Oregon, with whom she signed an acrobatics and tumbling scholarship Tuesday.
The Cartersville High senior said she started at her sport at a young age. “It’s taken up years and years and years to learn, but it’s all paying off now because I will get to use it to help me go to college. I’m thankful I started at such an early age and got so much accomplished as far as learning the sport and being able to do so many different things.”
Kirkland, a competition cheerleader at Cartersville a year and at Woodland two years, said after Oregon became interested in her, she sent them a video of her tumbling.
That led, eventually, to her going on an official visit to the university Oct. 26.
Kirkland said she chose Oregon because she likes the emphasis it places on her sport. “When I saw that, that’s when I knew that’s where I wanted to be. I’m not just a cheerleader, I’m an athlete.”
Frank Middleton, who has coached Kirkland the past 10 years, said she is adept at a very demanding sport.
“She will be doing acrobatics, stunting and synchronized tumbling as well as be a member of a competitive team that competes against different universities and colleges across the country,” Middleton said. “She is going to one of the most intense programs in the United States, if not the most intense, for what she’s going for.”
He said the program will require practice mornings and evenings and there will be competitions on weekends.
“They stay pretty busy with all they have to do,” he added.
Middleton said Kirkland is “extremely competitive” and does the things necessary to improve.
He said she’s also applied herself academically since a young age. “I have been working with her over 10 years. I’ve watched her grow up.”
Kirkland, he said, is very coachable and has always asked what she needed to do to acquire this or that skill or to make this team.
“I could not be happier for her,” he said. “It was an honor to have her so many years. She was like one of my kids.”
Doug Bond, who has coached her 10 years through the Devilray All Stars, said the University of Oregon is getting a good person, too. “She has great values, great morals and is a great person to be around.”
Bond said that is important because she will be called on to master a lot of things for her team and it will take up a great deal of her time. “It’s an all-year sport and there’s no off-season.”
Kirkland said tumbling is something she just loves to do. “It’s like a getaway for me. I can go tumble and get my mind off things or just to have some fun. I just like to do it. It’s fun. There’s never been a time I’ve hated to do it.”
Among her honors are being named 2007 Most Valuable Cheerleaders for the Georgia Allstars, two-time UCA National Champion, four-time Cheersport National Champion, four-time NCA National Champion, three-time Cheerleading Worlds participant, 2009 first freshman to receive Cheerleader of the Year at Woodland, GHSA Competition Cheerleading State qualifier 2009, third place; and 2012, second place.
Kirkland said her long-range plans are to attend law school at the University of Oregon.