When most high school athletes get the chance to take their skills to the college level, it isn't often that one of their teammates joins them at the same school in the same year. For cheerleaders Amanda McGowan and Lindsey Dickson, the transition to a college squad was a little different last year.
The former Lady Raiders both started their college careers cheering for Martin Methodist College in the 2018-19 season. Having that connection as well as the bond with their new teammates helped McGowan and Dickson get used to college life.
"It was pretty great. It was great to have a group of people to start off with cheer because we had a group of people that we already knew," McGowan said. "It helped us get to know a lot of other people and it really made it easier to get settled into college."
The two have cheered together since they were in eighth grade at Coffee County Middle School.
After four years at Central High School, both were interested in joining a college cheer squad. What they didn't realize was that they would both be going to the same school.
When McGowan and Dickson were seniors, members of the Martin Methodist squad came to one of the CHS tryouts. After speaking with the visiting Redhawks, both became interested in the program.
"We kind of just started talking about it and we thought it could be awesome," Dickson said. "So we didn't really plan on it happening. It was just all of a sudden, just one day, it was like okay we're going to school together."
At school, McGowan and Dickson are inseparable. In addition to cheer team activities, the two go to class together and hang out together during their free time.
Staying on the same team allowed the two freshmen to have a familiar face when they came to campus last year. McGowan added that it allowed the pair to lean on each other for support.
"We're just always there for each other," McGowan said. "and we always have that one person to go back to when things go wrong."
Five years of cheering together in middle and high school also helped McGowan and Dickson maintain good chemistry in their new college routines.
The two also admitted that it gave them a friendly rivalry to push each other to the best of their abilities.
"We're both kind of competitive so we don't want to see the other one be farther," Dickson said with a laugh. "So we're like oh she's doing that so I'm gonna go do that."
Since their first day, McGowan and Dickson have built close relationships with the rest of the Redhawk cheerleaders. The two have already created many memories with the team, such as going to competitions and getting involved with the community.
With their sophomore years on the horizon, the duo have a lot to be excited about. The team has a new coach coming in, with the possibility of new routines for them to work on. They are also looking forward to meeting the new crop of freshmen cheerleaders.
Through new teammates and coaches, one thing remains the same for McGowan and Dickson. The longtime teammates are there for each other both on and off the team.
"Going to college is scary but you have that person to rely on," Dickson said. "We're hardly ever apart whenever we're at school and it's just good to have that person."