While still in it's infancy on the campus of Menlo College, the competitive cheer team has begun to build an impressive legacy and continues to earn accolades as they progress. Most recently, Samantha McLeod, a sophomore on the squad, earned the honor of camp counselor at the upcoming United Spirit Association (USA) Summer Camps in California. McLeod is the first member of the Menlo team to enjoy this honor this year. She looks forward building off of what she has learned over a lifetime of dance and cheer experience and transfer those skills to young and aspiring middle school and high school students.
USA runs camps throughout the summer in three different states including California, Utah, and Arizona. The purpose is to promote unity and spirit and build goals for the kids to take with them to their schools and cheer programs. As an alumnus of these camps, McLeod is looking forward to giving back to a program that taught her so much. The opportunity to do this was one that McLeod was fortunate to receive. With the majority of the staff filled by returning counselors, McLeod was one of roughly 200 applicants looking to fill just two or three open positions.
"I did USA in high school and was on the dance and cheer team every year," said McLeod. "I always wanted to be an instructor and I had a friend who was an instructor who e-mailed me and said I should do it. I went in and auditioned and got it. "
McLeod was quick to note that her time at Menlo was a major factor in being selected for this role. Having spent time on a successful, professional-style team, under the tutelage of head coach Kezia Molinsky, McLeod was able to transfer those skills in to the audition process and nab one of the spots for the upcoming summer.
"With Kezia everything was so wonderful. It's a more professional experience. Having the Menlo experience and coming from a professional style cheer team here; it was a good transition," said McLeod.
USA runs a number of camps over the course of the year. Typically, 20 schools will bring students and they are split amongst four to five instructors. McLeod noted she will likely be involved in four to five camps per summer, but the benefits do not necessarily end with the summer.
"I get four or five camps per summer and it doesn't necessarily stop at the camp," said McLeod. "I can work competitions throughout the year and other events that they host. I'm more than welcome to be a part of that."
This experience is the natural progression of things for McLeod who hopes to one day teach cheer and dance after her time at Menlo. The experience and opportunities created while a counselor will help her to realize these goals and continue to grow in her remaining season on Menlo's competitive cheer squad. Molinsky is happy to see McCleod's hard work pay off and is proud of her accomplishments.
"It is an honor to be chosen to be a staff member for USA Cheer and Dance. I am so proud of Sam's accomplishment. She is such a hard worker who has an incredible passion for dance. She will inspire her students this summer with her positive attitude and incredible technique," said Molinksy.
The honor is one that McLeod is excited to embark upon for multiple reasons, at the forefront of those reasons is being able to give back to a group of kids looking to improve themselves and their schools.
"The program really promotes goals for kids because you never know where these kids come from. They are giving them something wonderful to bring back to their schools."