Devan Kuhn is usually busy cheering for the Falcons, her high school's football team, but now she's cheering for a completely different reason: she won a trip to London.
A varsity cheerleader at Nation Ford High School, Kuhn, 15, recently attended the Universal Cheerleaders Association Camp in Myrtle Beach, and won the chance to represent her high school in London's New Year's Day Parade. The UCA Camp, which was held at the Springmaid Beach Resort from June 22 to June 25, attracted more than 400 cheerleaders from around the country who learned cheerleading routines, team bonding exercises and proper techniques.
The camp culminated with a competition among more than 200 cheerleaders, each handpicked by their respective coaches. Kuhn, whose coach chose her and five others from her squad to compete, performed a three-part routine which included a dance, an "extreme cheer" and a toe-touch jump. In the end, only 50 awards were handed out and Kuhn won the UCA All-Star award.
"We performed the last night of camp and the next day we all gathered around to hear who won and they called my name," Kuhn said. "I got a packet of information about London and a medal with the UCA symbol on it with a blue ribbon."
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The prize includes a trip to London with sightseeing tours to Windsor, Big Ben and Buckingham Palace, and concludes with a performance in the New Year's Day Parade with several other All-Star cheerleaders. Kuhn, whose only excursion out of the country has been to Canada, hopes she will get to attend.
"I'm not sure if I can go yet, but if I did go it would be like my birthday and Christmas combined," Kuhn said. "I'm looking forward to the tours. I want to see how everything is different and to people watch. And I also can't wait to try the food."
In addition to attending the camp, Kuhn, who will be a junior at Nation Ford starting next week, has been extremely busy practicing for the upcoming competitive season as well. Her 25-member squad is planning on performing in at least three competitions and has stepped up its practices. Kuhn's current schedule includes at least two or three two-hour practices a week when she fine-tunes her routines.
In addition, most practices end with 30 minutes of conditioning, ranging from push-ups to running.
Devan's mother, Marisa Morris, said even though her daughter has always been interested in cheerleading, she actually started out in gymnastics. Starting at 6 years old, Devan performed as a competitive gymnast for more than three years. Eventually she switched to dance classes before trying out for cheerleading in the seventh grade. Devan has been competing ever since.
"She does love it," her mother said. "She works very hard and has been very successful at it, despite any injuries she's had."
Devan plans to cheer through the end of her senior year then hopefully head off to either Clemson University or the College of Charleston, where she may cheer as well. Right now, though, she's just focused on getting in front of a crowd and cheering for her school.
"I love performing at the Friday night football games," Kuhn said. "You usually see all your friends and family come down. It's fun to see everyone."