While Shelby Smith began life as one of four quads born to her parents some 18 years ago, she has stepped out on her own and made history. Shelby Smith is the first ever four-time State Cheerleading Champion that this reporter’s research can find. Not only is she the first at Marceline High School, but she may very well be the first in all of Linn County.
“I am still trying to wrap my head around it all,” said Shelby. “It means a lot because I couldn’t have done it without the teams I was on. I couldn’t have done it by myself, they deserve a lot of credit as well. I can’t believe it happened, I would have never dreamed it was possible.”
Shelby started on the Marceline Varsity Cheerleading squad as an alternate for the competition team. She did have to fill in for Maggie Robinson, who had suffered a rib injury, but did not compete actively as a freshman.
“It was intimidating, but I was ready, I was excited,” remembered Shelby. “That year, I didn’t get to compete. I was an alternate, but it was still amazing, and still meant a lot to me. We worked very hard as a team.”
Her sophomore year Shelby moved full-time to the Varsity squad. Despite her youth, the previous year’s experience as an alternate proved invaluable.
“You have to do a lot more as a full member of the squad,” admitted Shelby. “Even though I was a part of the team as an alternate, you feel even more a part of things as a full member. Alternates are very important to the team. I knew what it was going to be like from my experience the year before.”
As a junior Shelby’s classmates joined her on the varsity squad. “I was more comfortable in competition,” said Shelby. “I grew a lot last year, as a performer. I was less scared of certain stunts and tried a lot of new things.”
But with the third title came the talk of making history. “I knew after winning three, and everyone talking about it, that I could be the first four-time state champ,” admitted Shelby. Still, the challenge was something that the spunky young lady was eager to take on.
That led her to her senior year. As a seasoned veteran, and despite the looming figure of history, Shelby was ready for her final competitive season.
“I felt a lot of pressure because people expect more out of you as a three time champion,” said Shelby. “We put a lot of pressure on ourselves to win. But no matter what, we knew we could be proud of ourselves.”
Page 2 of 2 - Shelby competed for the final time with a hip injury, and the team did not know if she was going to be able to compete. According to her coach, up to 15 minutes before taking the floor, there was uncertainty.
“We didn’t know if she was going to able to perform 15 minutes before we were supposed to go out,” said Head Coach Gay Spencer. “She went out and did everything.”
“During the warm-ups I hurt my hip,” said Shelby. “I stretched it out and decided to go on. I didn’t go through all of the practice to not perform.”
Shelby noted that the fourth win was an amazing experience. “When it was over, we knew we had done it,” said Shelby. “We didn’t make any mistakes as a team. I surprised myself. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to get through it, but I did.”