Heather Thomas making her presence felt in brief time on amateur cheerleading circuit

BRIGHT FUTURE: The once shy Heather Thomas didn't take long to evolve into a rising amateur cheerleader for the DeSoto County Young Champions. In just her third season, the seven-year-old has already advanced to the Division 2 category. (Photos by Coral Thomas)

BRIGHT FUTURE: The once shy Heather Thomas didn’t take long to evolve into a rising amateur cheerleader for the DeSoto County Young Champions. In just her third season, the seven-year-old has already advanced to the Division 2 category. (Photos by Coral Thomas)

Just recently, Coral Thomas was going on and on about how much her daughter, Heather Thomas, has flourished as an up-and-coming cheerleader.

Two years ago, in fact, Coral Thomas admittedly didn’t know what to make of her daughter’s constant plea to take up such a popular recreational activity.

“At first, she was really, really shy and kind of like withdrawn,” Coral Thomas said. She wasn’t outgoing. This was something she asked to do. Then when she went to her first couple of practices, she had that ‘What did I get myself into?’ type of look.”

Today is an entire different story, in large part because this once soft spoken has proven she aspires to broaden her horizon.

“I want to learn how to do flips,” Heather told MemphiSport.

Given the considerable progress she’s made in such a brief time as an amateur cheerleader, it’s safe to assume that Heather Thomas has adjusted quite comfortably in a sport. For starters, the seven-year-old Greenbrook Elementary School student exhibited such a remarkable display in recent years for the DeSoto County Young Champions cheerleading squad that she has been upgraded to the Division 2 squad that is comprised of 7-to-9-year-old participants.

Heather Thomas will begin her third season for DCYC starting Monday. Considering how well she has become acclimated to competing with a number of the brightest young cheerleaders in the Mid-South, chances are she will have an even greater impact in her new role, one that will call for her to become equipped with an assortment of new skills and fundamentals in a division that is made up of close to 100 participants.

“In December 2012, she seemed to come out of her shell after she went to her first competition,” Coral Thomas explained.

Among the reasons Heather Thomas managed to rid herself of the nervousness and jitters that comes with being a newcomer to a sport is that along with traveling to multiple competitions throughout the Mid-South, she simultaneously began taking up modeling classes. As her mother tells it, that Heather was willing to partake in other recreational activities essentially provided her with the confidence and perseverance she needed to evolve into an effective cheerleader.

Given how much she has blossomed since she first picked grabbed a hold of pom poms two years ago, Heather doesn’t appear will give up her newfound admiration for cheerleading.

“With modeling and cheerleading, they both helped her to come out of her shell,” Coral Thomas, a veteran educator for Shelby County Schools, said. “She’s an only child. But she’s learned the skills of being able to work with others to fulfill certain goals.”

Heather’s keen ability to work with her peers has benefited her immensely, particularly on the cheerleading circuit.

After helping DCYC to a recent regional first-place finish, the organization placed third in another regional competition in Jackson, Tenn., then followed that performance by placing second in state competition a month later, achievements that ultimately led to her advancing to Division 2 of DCYC.

GO, FIGHT, WIN! Among Heather Thomas' accolades as a rising cheerleader includes local, regional, and state championships.

GO, FIGHT, WIN! Among Heather Thomas’ accolades as a rising cheerleader includes local, regional, and state championships.

Besides cheerleading, Heather Thomas also has become a fixture on the runway in recent years. Having first modeled while only two months old, among Heather’s grandest highlights as an amateur model was when she strolled the runway with her mother and grandmother five years ago. Consequently, she made her professional debut nearly a year ago for Reflections Modeling Agency and became the youngest individual selected to showcase her talents at an event that was taped by a Switzerland-based television station.

To her credit, her modeling talents have enabled her to make appearance at a New York-area event last year. In addition to modeling, Heather has participated in a several youth pageants in which she has been crowned “Tiny Miss Cutie” as well as the “Young Miss Southaven” in November 2013.

Next up is a lofty opportunity at capturing victory at the state pageant in July in Vicksburg, Miss. In essence, her assortment of accolades came to fruition, in large part because even as an “only child,” she managed to embrace a team concept, a trend that will enable her to make her presence felt even more as she prepares for DCYC’s Division 2 competition starting Monday.

“It just made her be outspoken and didn’t make her scared to compete,” said Coral Thomas, assessing her daughter’s progress as an amateur athlete in recent years. “To me, it has helped her discipline and learn to follow a set of rules. And, as an only child that was a concern because they don’t always have to be accountable for their actions. That helped her get along with other people. So to me, it helped her social skills. She’s very outgoing now.”

What a difference two years have made.

Andre Johnson is a senior writer for MemphiSport. To reach Johnson, email him at andre@memphisport.net. Also, follow him on Twitter @AJ_Journalist.

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