Demon cheerleader vaults to CU squad
Cheerleading has opened a lot of doors for Megan McGrath.
Since becoming a member of Glenwood Springs High School’s cheer squad three years ago, she and her teammates have won numerous in-state competitions and have participated at a national tournament in Orlando, Fla.
Those cheerleading skills, combined with her athletic talent have launched McGrath to a teaching career in the sport and a spot on an NCAA Division I cheerleading program.
This summer McGrath will be instructing high school cheerleaders across the western United States as a staff member for the Universal Cheerleaders Association.
Afterward, McGrath will continue her cheering at the University of Colorado in Boulder.
She is the first Demon cheerleader chosen to teach in a professional cheerleading organization and the second in three years to make the CU cheer team.
Admitting that “it really hasn’t sunken in yet,” McGrath said she’s very fortunate to have needed to earn both positions.
Her accomplishments in the sport are more impressive, considering she had to be talked into trying out for the high school’s cheer team.
Prior to cheerleading McGrath was a competitive gymnast for nine years. She got introduced to cheerleading during a workout at the Glenwood Gymnastics Academy.
“One of my coaches at the gym was Lynn Goluba, who also was my PE teacher. She was (the one) who talked me into trying out for the school’s cheerleading squad at the end of my freshman year,” McGrath recalled.
Goluba, who coaches the high school’s cheer squad along with Kim Richardson and Jody Jordan, said one of the reasons she asked her pupil to become a cheerleader was to keep her involved in gymnastics.
“I knew she still loved gymnastics and I didn’t want her to lose that ability and that love of the sport and I really thought she’d enjoy it,” said Goluba.
“So I asked her to consider cheerleading. She did … thank goodness.”
Until that first tryout at the end of her freshman year, McGrath wasn’t aware the high school had a cheerleading squad.
“I never really paid attention to it before,” she continued. “I never saw myself as a cheerleader when I was younger. But once I got into it, I loved it.”
As the years passed, her love of cheering blossomed. And she continued a successful track and field career – she’s a state qualifier again this year in the 100-meter hurdles.
“Once I got into in, that was my vision that I’d go the next step,” she said. “I’d go to CU and become a cheerleader. That was my dream, so I was very happy when I made the squad.”
McGrath had to try out for both organizations. She said both were never-racking.
“For UCA, their tryouts were a day after the state competition (in December). That was a little overwhelming,” she said. “At CU, I was there three days. It was very, very intense.”
High school cheerleaders at the CU tryout included out-of-state prospects from New Jersey, Tennessee, California and Utah.
“The tryouts were very intimidating. But it was nice to see that type of talent,” McGrath said.
McGrath added that the hardest part of leaving high school cheerleading is not having her squadmates close by.
“Your teammates become your family, they really do. You notice that you only hang out with each other in a school atmosphere, so it’s going to be hard to leave.”
But, McGrath’s also looking ahead toward the challenges she’ll face as a professional cheerleading instructor and collegiate cheerleader.
She said the hardest of the task is teaching 100 cheerleaders at one time.
“I love cheerleading, but it could be frustrating when you can’t help everyone at once,” McGrath said on instructing. She said that cheering in front of 50,000 people at Folsom Field in Boulder “will just be fun.”
McGrath won’t lose her ties to Glenwood Springs entirely. The Demon cheerleading squad annually attends UCA camp during the summer, and the Demons hope McGrath will be instructing at their camp.
Moreover, Goluba said they are going to try to get to Boulder for a CU football game this fall to see their former captain perform in person.
“We’re real excited for Megan, and we’re absolutely going to see her cheer whenever we can,” the coach said.
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