You might call her a whirling dervish. Senior Abby Eckert is a high-energy member of the Tahlequah High cheer team. Assistant cheer coach Melissa Dotson recalls an event from this past football season that demonstrates Abby’s enthusiasm.
“It was our first away football game and Abby noticed that our student section wasn’t really getting into it. So she left the sidelines and went up into the stands to encourage them to show a little more school spirit,” chuckled Dotson.
Maybe part of the reason for that is Abby’s special love for football. Yes, in case you were wondering about that name, Abby is the daughter of Northeastern State football coach JJ Eckert and the granddaughter of legendary NSU coach Tom Eckert.
“I’ve been around football all my life. I’ve watched how my father and grandfather formed relationships with their players and I think that will have an impact on how I interact with people for the rest of my life.”
Abby moved to Tahlequah from Kilgore, Texas her sophomore year when her father took the NSU job and started out on the THS dance team. As a young girl Abby grew up around the famed Kilgore Rangerettes precision dance team which has been a staple of events like the Cotton Bowl and Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade for years.
“I used to go to their summer camps, and they would show us their dorms and facilities and it was great. I have a friend who will probably try out for them next year and if I still lived there I might too,” said Abby.
Eckert made the cheer squad her junior year but suffered a shoulder injury late in the football season that has forced some changes.
“I started off as a side base in our stunts, but the shoulder injury took almost a year to get better so I’ve moved to a main base now. But all during that rehab time I was always in the cheer room helping out where I could and encouraging the team.”
So, what is Abby’s biggest strength as a cheerleader?
“I bring loudness to the team. I can yell like no one else and I’ll always be heard,” laughed Eckert.
In addition to her cheer activities, Abby is very involved at Cheer It Up in Tahlequah where she is an instructor. She is also in the Soroptimist Club, National Honor Society, student council, FCA, is a girls’ state representative and will serve as a page at the state capitol this winter. After graduation, Abby plans on attending the University of Arkansas to get a degree in finance.