GRAFTON - Raven Reed has S-P-I-R-I-T.
For the past four years, Raven, a senior at Midview High School, has been cheering on the Middies for various sporting events.
"I began cheering after I decided to take a break from gymnastics," Raven said. "In many ways, cheerleading and gymnastics are very similar, so I decided to give it a try. After I did it once, I fell in love with anything and everything dealing with the sport."
A gymnast since the age of 5, Raven, now 17, began cheering when she was in the seventh grade and has been cheering ever since.
And, she made history at Midview High School as the first and only female student in the school`s history to make the varsity cheerleading squad as a freshman.
But, Raven, who is currently the captain of her squad, isn`t your typical high school cheerleader. Her passion for cheerleading keeps her on her feet every day.
"I`m what you`d call a â€˜full-time cheerleader,` " Raven said. "I have been involved with cheerleading since I was 12 years old."
She practices every day of the week, either with her competition squad, the American Elite Allstars team "Encore," in Tallmadge or at Midview.
"Cheering keeps me busy running around from place to place all the time," she said.
Recently, Raven participated in the Miss Cheerleader of America competition and took home the title of "Miss Ohio Cheerleader of America."
A few weeks ago, Raven traveled to Orlando, Fla., with Encore to compete in the World`s All Star Cheerleading Competition. Her team placed 11th in the nation, which Raven said is an honor.
"That put us as No. 1 in our state for our division," Raven said.
For Raven, cheerleading has been a way to find her inner leader, team player and the best person she can be.
"My biggest pet peeve is when I hear people saying cheerleading isn`t a sport," she said. "You have to excel in strength, flexibility, cardio and mental/physical exertion. You must be strong in all areas and, overall, be a well-rounded athlete."
Next year, Raven will attend Lorain County Community College and then hopes to transfer to The Ohio State University.
But, don`t think this cheerleader has any plans to stop her showing spirit.
Raven will continue to cheer on her competitive team, American Elite, on the Senior Level 5 limited co-ed team, Encore.
"I find everything (about cheering) enjoyable. I love cheerleading and everything about it," Raven said.
For more information on American Elite Allstars, visit www.aeaohio.com.
There are three locations in the Greater Cleveland area, Tallmadge, North Ridgeville and Solon.
Send your Grafton/LaGrange/Columbia news to Melissa Linebrink, 329-7155 or firstname.lastname@example.org.