Thompson Cheers at Orlando Thanksgiving Tour

Thompson Cheers at Orlando Thanksgiving Tour

Jemiah Stacker

After being selected as an All-American Cheerleader at UCA (Universal Cheerleaders Association) try-outs at camp in June, Mashayla Thompson and her two coaches, Anitra Hankerson and Ashley Watson, accompanied her to the 2022 Orlando Thanksgiving Tour. 


“A couple of girls (from Timberview) tried out to become an All-American, and I was the only one who made it,” Thompson said. “I didn’t know what to think. I was just like, ‘Oh,’ and then my friends were just pushing me towards the stage saying ‘Go, go, go!’”


Only the top 12% of cheerleaders make All-American in the United States.


“In my four years of coaching, I’ve never had a cheerleader make it and so this was extra special for her to be selected during our UCA Cheer Camp,” Coach Anitra Hankerson said. “I’m proud of her. She did such a good job, and she rose to the occasion. She’s just that all around, an All-American Cheerleader.”


Once chosen, Thompson had the decision to make on going to Philadelphia or Disney World to perform in a parade. 


“Shay made it, and we were all screaming,” Coach Anitra Hankerson said. “We called her mom, FaceTimed her, saying, ‘We’re going to Disney World!’”


UCA sent the routine all participants would need for the parade.


“Varsity Spirit didn’t want anyone to know the choreography, so I didn’t even show my mom it,” Thompson said. “I was just practicing it by myself, and no one could see it until the actual parade day.”


Along with the routine, UCA sent the All-American Cheerleaders matching uniforms. 


“They sent her a shell and a skirt. She had to wear white socks and cheer shoes, and they sent pom poms in a pom bag,” Hankerson said. “They sent us, the coaches and her, an Orlando tour souvenir shirt that we got to keep for ourselves.”


Coaches Hankerson and Watson stayed at the resort as chaperones. 


“She had nine people in her family go, but they stayed off the resort at an Airbnb,” Hankerson said. “So it was easier for her mom to not have to deal with cheer stuff and just concentrate on her family.”


Over the four-day experience, Mashayla Thompson practiced with her counterparts, visited Animal Kingdom and cheered down Main Street on Thanksgiving Day. 


“It was so much fun. I met a lot of people there and they made the experience better,” Thompson said. “I do want to accomplish more after that (becoming an All-American) as I feel that it’s one of my first stepping stones and that it will get me recognized for colleges.”