May 2, 2019 - The Union Academy Varsity Cheer Squad has been awarded the NCHSAA Commissioner’s Cup for their #UACheerHasHeart service projects in the community over the last year. Led by coaches Jennifer Sutton Smith and Delaney Sarah Smith, the team volunteers together at several non profit organizations in the county.
In January, the squad helped Inreach, a non profit that serves adults with disabilities, with their first ever Snow Ball Dance. The squad decorated and set up, served refreshments, danced with the attendees, and cleaned up. The squad also attended the Halloween Dance at the Ellen Fitzgerald Center. There they danced with the attendees, served refreshments, learned some “old” dances, and performed some of their cheer dances for the older adults. Additionally, the girls have sorted clothes and collected donations at the The Closet, a Heart for Monroe non profit; they collected household items for their annual “Fill the Basket” drive which provides laundry baskets of supplies to a family receiving housing through the Community Shelter of Union County. They also collected items for the hurricane relief, opened car doors in morning carpool for the younger students at their school, volunteered as coaches for the UA rec cheer squads, and a number of other service projects. The 17 member squad and their coaches have volunteered over 750 hours of service since June 2018. As part of the award the team also received a $1,000 stipend.
"I am very proud of the compassion our girls show to others. They lead by example and truly have a heart for serving the community. I am most proud of their service with Inreach because they heard about the dance at UA’s community service fair and brought the opportunity to the coaches. This was their idea for service and that makes it even more special," stated Coach Jennifer Smith.
The Commissioner's Cup Competition is an award based on community service. Schools had their team or teams identify a need within the community and create a plan to conduct the service project. They then submitted a 2-minute video of the project to explain how the team served, the impact of the project on the community, the number of people served, the theme of the project and photos or video from the event. Winners each will receive a $1,000 stipend for their respective team or school athletic program.
Coach Delaney Smith summed her feelings about winning the award, "As coaches, we know our job is about much more than cheerleading; it’s about developing confident young women who will be leaders in the community. This award is nice; however, the girls on the team didn't do community service to win an award. They truly care about others and enjoy working together."