Seymour cheerleaders travel to London for New Year’s Day Parade


When three Seymour High School cheerleaders were presented the opportunity to perform on one of the world’s biggest stages, they couldn’t pass it up.

Earlier this month, juniors Grace Rueger and Haruka Taguchi and senior Kaylyn Stidham rang in 2018 with style.

The three recently performed in the London New Year’s Day Parade in England.

Rueger, Taguchi and Stidham were among more than 650 high school cheerleaders and dancers from across the United States representing Varsity Spirit.

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Cheerleaders, dancers, marching bands, acrobats and more made up the 10,000 performers representing 20 countries worldwide in the 2018 parade.

The Owls cheerleaders were invited to perform in the parade after qualifying at a summer camp hosted by one of the Varsity Spirit camps in Bloomington in July.

“This summer, the high school cheerleaders went to a camp in Bloomington for Universal Cheerleaders Association,” Owls cheer coach Julie Rueger said. “During that camp, they offer a tryout for anyone that would like to try out for the All-American squad. This being our first year going, I didn’t really know what that entailed until we got into it.

“Basically, the girls had to do some required jumps, tumbling, dance and cheer, and the camp judged them based on that. They chose 12 percent of all the girls from the summer camp to make the All-American squad. Once they made that squad, they were sent information to go to London to participate in the New Year’s parade.”

Only the top 10 percent of the more than 325,000 cheerleaders and dancers who attend the 5,000 Varsity Spirit summer camp sessions earn the chance to march in the holiday spectacular.

“We didn’t really think any of us were going to make it,” Taguchi said. “We didn’t really understand what it was at first. I thought we were just going to get an award or something.”

Once the three were filled in on all the details, they got involved with fundraisers to provide monies for the trip.

The cheerleaders conducted a bake sale, setting up a stand outside Walmart, and helped with admission at Seymour Area Youth Football League games over the summer and fall to raise funds.

The three flew out Dec. 26 and spent the days leading up to the parade touring England.

“The company provided a chaperone from the time they got on the plane to the time they came back to the states,” coach Rueger said. “There was one per 10 or 15 girls. They helped plan the activities each day.”

The cheerleaders visited famous locations such as Buckingham Palace, St. Paul’s Cathedral and Westminster Abbey in the days leading up to the parade.

On parade day, the cheerleaders conglomerated and performed at 10 different grandstands along the route.

Television cameras were set up at the final location with early 300 million people around the world watching the yearly event.

“The parade was my favorite part,” Grace said. “Everyone there knew we were from America. It was cool to see their reactions. They all asked us questions about where we from and stuff. Most people don’t get the chance to experience something like that. It was a big deal. With a small town like Seymour, you don’t typically hear about these types of things. This was a big opportunity.”

The girls representing USA Cheerleading returned Jan. 2.

Stidham, who had never flown on a plane prior to the trip, said she would do it all over again if she got the chance.

“I didn’t really think I was going to make it with all of the competition,” she said. “Once I made it, I was like ‘Oh my gosh. This is awesome.’ I probably won’t get a chance like this again. If I could go back and do another senior year, I would do it again.”

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