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All about school spirit

Danville senior cheerleader Tonaa Cooper leads school spirit from the sidelines and also competes in competitive cheerleading. (Photo by Eric Pritchett)

Cooper now in her fourth year as a Danville varsity cheerleader

By Mike Beas

The decades-old question pertaining to cheerleading isn’t lost on Tonaa Cooper.

While cheerleading isn’t categorized as an actual sport the way some feel it should, Cooper, a Danville senior, doesn’t consider herself part of the sis-boom-bah-humbug collection of skeptics.

To her, helping create enthusiasm during football and basketball games and the practices leading up to them are unique in the challenges they offer.

Winning such an argument might be its own version of scaling a mountain, but that’s fine with Cooper, who likes mountains. After all, she was born in Anchorage, Alaska, the backdrop being the breathtakingly beautiful Chugach Mountain Range.

Cooper’s family moved to Indiana prior to her third grade school year to be closer to her maternal grandparents. She still visits the Land of the Midnight Sun every two or three years to see family and friends but is firmly and happily entrenched in all things Danville.

She carries a 4.1 grade point average and plans to attend Indiana University.

In the meantime, Cooper looks forward to representing her school throughout the upcoming boys basketball season. She’s been a varsity cheerleader since her freshman year.

“I just think the attitude she brings every day will be hard to replace,” said fifth-year Danville cheerleading coach Breanna Galliher, a former Warriors cheerleader herself having occupied sidelines for varsity events from 2007-2010. “Tonaa is always upbeat and has a great attitude. She always pushes, but in a good way, and is so natural in everything she does.”

Cooper did a Q&A with ICON:

Q: A lot of people don’t consider cheerleading to be an actual sport. How do you respond to this?

A: I do sideline cheerleading, and I also cheer competitively. I do think competitive cheerleading is a sport, but sideline cheer is hard and requires a lot of strength and agility. The goal is to make it look easy even though it is difficult. It is not actually easy.

Q: How has being a cheerleader most benefited you?

A: I’ve always been a social person. I decided in seventh grade to try out and loved it. I would do it the rest of my life if I could. The best part is being around my teammates. I love them and always have a blast with them. I learn so much being with them.

Q: Have you made any college plans, and, if so, what are they?

A: I would like to cheer at the next level. I am going to Indiana University and think I am going to major in biology. My goal, ultimately, is to be a surgeon of some kind, maybe a pediatric surgeon because I love kids, and I think family is so important. I want to keep as many families together as possible.

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