The Dawson County High School football cheerleaders made their first trip to team camp earlier this summer.
"We went to our first UCA (Universal Cheerleaders Association) camp at the University of West Georgia," said Coach Brooke Sanders. "It was an awesome experience."
The squad of 21 girls has been putting in a lot of prep time for the upcoming year.
"We are looking for the best year ever for us," Sanders said.
There are multiple cheerleading programs including the basketball squad and the competition team, but football season is their opportunity to shine.
"Friday night football was very exciting last year for Dawson County and it was an honor to be a part of that," Sanders said.
"I cannot wait for this season with my team," CeCe Formon said. "We bonded so much at camp and truly became a family."
Sanders talks about the girls and their efforts like a proud mom.
This year's team includes two cheerleaders who tried out and were named All-American cheerleaders through the Universal Cheer Association. Madison Sheriff and Formon will travel to London to perform in a parade on New Year's Eve.
"Becoming an All-American cheerleader is such a huge accomplishment especially since it's my senior year," Sheriff said. "I feel privileged to represent Dawson County in this exciting adventure."
"I think traveling to London is going to be a very exciting opportunity and I can't wait to cheer with girls from all over the world."
Chloe Pressley is a gymnast and was unable to attend this year's camp as she was participating in Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) nationals where she placed third in all-around and second on beam.
Shelby Duncan was also unable to make it to cheer camp as she was one of only 14 students nationwide invited to attend a social justice conference at Samford University during that same week.
"I want everybody to know what a great group of girls I have," Sanders said. "I brag about them all the time."
During the camp the group competed against other varsity squads and were awarded for "best sideline." The squad also received superior and gold superior designations during evaluations.
"As a team we learned multiple cheers, multiple band dances, a dance and new ideas for stunts," Sheriff said.
This summer the team is practicing two days a week and the girls are learning cheers using tools like YouTube. This in turn gives them more time to work on stunts and timing.
The team has also worked on ways to encourage team spirit and crowd participation beyond the normal leading of cheers.
"I am trying to build the program by what we do on the sidelines with cheers and stunts and engaging our student body with what we do as well," Sanders said.
Last year they initiated a "fan of the week" contest.
The cheerleaders choose one fan during the football game who has gone over and above cheering for the team.
The fan is recognized during the third quarter of the football game. His or her photo is taken and put on the wall in the commons area of the high school.
The recipient of the designation is also given a basket of goodies that includes a t-shirt and candy as well as other items that have been donated by local vendors.
Dawson County High School football kicks off this week with a scrimmage game at North Oconee.