XENIA — Natalie Jones thought she was inquiring about the Raider student section when she approached a table of cheerleaders during Wright State University’s orientation in late June.
But minutes later when she walked away, she was one of the newest Raider cheerleaders.
Well, maybe it didn’t happen that easily and that quickly. But it was an interesting turn of events for the 18-year-old Xenia resident.
Jones, a 2017 Xenia graduate, wasn’t expecting to try out for cheerleading when she approached the table. But she happily did, and along with XHS classmate Shelby Blocher, made the 2017-2018 basketball cheerleading squad.
“I was very excited, ecstatic,” Jones said. “I’m really excited, just to meet new people and to be a part of something.”
It will be a triumphant return to the baseline for Jones, who hadn’t cheered since early in her junior year.
“With high school cheerleading I never had fun,” she said. “It wasn’t what I hoped my high school cheerleading career would be like. I wanted to cheer again. I like cheerleading.”
Blocher’s path to the Wright State University Nutter Center floor was a little more direct.
“I’ve cheered since sixth grade at Xenia,” she said. “I wanted to continue it at college. So excited that I made it. Moving on to college is going to be even better than starting out in middle school.”
Blocher tried out in the spring and was among approximately 50 candidates. She had to learn the routine for the fight song and did some tumbling, jumping and stunts.
“Nothing new,” Blocher said. “I had been cheering for a while. I thought I was going to do fine.”
Jones actually had to put in a little more work to get ready for the unexpected tryout.
“I hadn’t tumbled for a good year,” she said. “My tumbling has always been high. It was like super low. It was real rough.”
She became a gym rat, spending at least three days a week working on her skills.
And obviously, all is well.
Jones said she was told at the tryout she made the team and went right to a team meeting. Blocher found out fairly quickly as well and is happy to have a familiar face on the squad.
“I cheered with Natalie for a while,” Blocher said. “We’ve been friends for a while. It’s going to be nice to at least have someone I know with me.”
Though she was away from cheering for a while, Jones still participated in the school’s hip hop team as well as competitive hip hop and credited Denise Adams of Midwest Cheer for her success.
“That’s who I learned everything from,” Jones said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.