When you wish upon a star, makes no difference who you are
Anything your heart desires will come to you…(Pinocchio – Disney)
Since age nine when she watched cheerleaders in action, Keys senior Harley Handle has been involved in cheer, determined to achieve her dreams.
“I remember playing in the gym when the varsity cheerleaders were practicing stunts. I watched them in awe and knew that’s what I wanted to do.”
It’s with that experience in mind as a little girl that Harley talks about her favorite part of cheer and how that can influence future cheerleaders.
“My favorite thing about cheer is the kids. Seeing their faces light up just because you noticed them or talked to them. You don’t think about it much when you’re older, but I remember being a kid and seeing those beautiful cheerleaders and looking up to them so much,” explained Handle “It also reminds you to always do and be your best because you’re influencing people whether you like it or not.”
While most people involved in cheer are quick to label it as a sport, Harley draws a distinction in the kinds of cheer.
“I feel that high school cheer is not a sport, but competition cheer is. For instance, if I’m just cheering on the sidelines and practices are full of learning motions and some stunts, I don’t think it is a sport. But when we are competing and have to work hours on end, putting our bodies through strenuous work, I feel like it is a sport,” said Harley who has cheered all four years at Keys.
Besides cheer, Harley, who carries a 3.96 GPA and is in the top 10 percent of her class, is in student council, SWAT, FCA and is involved in choir and speech/debate.
“I’ve been singing my whole life. I’ve performed at the Roxy Theater in Muskogee and sung the National Anthem for many of our sporting events. But Vocal Choir is much different because there is so much precision and balance to it. I’ve received superior ratings in all my choir competitions including my freshman year which is hard to do. And while singing comes naturally, doing speech and debate is a whole different ball game. I really have to dig deep with hours of memorization, finding my emotions, and figuring out placement and timing. But for me it’s an outlet for my emotions and a place to put my energy into my piece,” said Handle. “As a result, I’ve received multiple awards over the years for my work. My dad always tells me ‘You only die once but you live every day. So, live each day like it’s your last.’ I want to live life with no regrets.”
Following high school, Harley plans on attending OSU and studying psychology.