By Becky Nelson, SAU #43 Public Relations Specialist
The turkey and stuffing are long gone, but the memories should last a long, long time for Newport cheerleader, Bailey Hanson, having recently performed in a squad of hundreds of cheerleaders from across the nation in the prestigious Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade.
Winning at the March 2014 competition of National Cheerleading Association “regionals” at Husson University in Bangor, Maine last summer, Hanson tumbled her way to the honor of competition at the national level, going on to compete and become an All-American Cheerleading team member. Competitions were held all over the nation, and “All American” cheerleaders were then invited to travel and perform at several prestigious events, both national and international.
About 800 high school athletes attended the Macy’s Thanksgiving parade according to Hanson and her then coach, Cassandra Abare Hoyt. The cheerleaders were housed in a New York hotel and took over a conference center where they learned routines between enjoying the sights and sounds of New York City. Parade day was a “fantastic experience” according to Hanson, and left impressions she will not soon forget.
Taking gymnastic lessons since she was two years old, it was a natural transition for the now high school senior to try out for the cheerleading squad when she was an eighth grader. She began cheering in sixth grade in a middle school squad and soon made her mark. She was good, and Abare-Hoyt, the high school varsity coach, took note. She wanted Hanson on the varsity squad, so Hanson began her six year run on the Newport Cheerleading Team after petitioning “up” as a middle-schooler.
As a sophomore, Hanson participated in a hometown Cheer Camp organized by Coach Abair Hoyt. The camp grew, skills grew, and the team headed to Bangor the next year, where Hanson competed well and earned the opportunity to travel to London, England for a New Year’s Day performance as her first year as an All-American Cheerleader. With those memories already in her mental files, Hanson headed off to camp her junior year and earned a spot as First Runner-Up in the state competition.
Last year, she again earned her crown as an All American and headed off to the Macy’s Day parade, an honor reserved for seniors on the All American team. Her coach stepped away from the team this year after coaching Bailey and her “very talented, hardworking teammates”, needing time to work toward her Master’s degree in the mental health field and taking time to have a child. “I may not be able to stay away for long,” said Abare Hoyt, adding that she has continued to support her former student athletes, just not in a coaching role.
Hanson said her parents, Tami McNamara and Andy Hanson, are supportive of her cheerleading, even following a recent surgery on her wrists. “I just wear my ‘tiger paw’ braces when I do tumbling routines,” she said, nonplused by the post-surgery restrictions. “I just have to be really careful,” she said.
Greatly influenced by her coach and mentor, Hanson hopes to attend college following graduation this year and work toward becoming a mental health counselor or pursue a career in communications. She said she hopes to continue cheering during her college career.