Nederland cheerleader signs college scholarship, hopes other student-athletes follow path

Published 5:12 pm Monday, March 6, 2023

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NEDERLAND — Ava Washburn is an athlete and trendsetter.

Having turned 18 on March 1, the Nederland High School senior hit another milestone Monday afternoon when she signed a college scholarship with Lamar University to join the college cheer team for 2023-24.

She is the first Nederland High cheerleader to sign with a college team, school officials said.

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The event was celebrated in the Nederland High School Dome Gym.

She began taking tumbling instruction in the third grade, started cheering in fifth grade for the Nederland Youth Football Association and began her school cheer career in seventh grade.

However, it was only recently she began to seriously consider cheerleading as a path to a college scholarship and educational tool.

Lamar University ended up the logical destination.

“I like how close to home it is and the campus,” she said. “I am going to get a degree in nursing, and the nursing program is something I really like.”

Washburn tried out for the varsity Nederland squad as a freshman and joked that cheer was the only thing she enjoyed about high school.

“I love the friends I made and the sport in general, the setting, the tumbling,” she said. “I’ve just really liked the people I have always been around. It’s a really good environment to be in. You ask any football player to do what we do, and they would not be able to do it as good as us.”

A top class cheerleader must have strength and confidence to excel, according to Washburn.

Keeping a smile on your face when things go wrong is also important.

“To be a well-rounded athlete, you have to be able to throw people and not be fearful. As a flyer, a tumbler, you can’t be scared to do things,” she said.

“I am definitely going to miss how close we are as a team. It was a really good environment. I love all of them.”

Washburn credits the Nederland cheer teachers and coaches for being there for the students and always trying to help. She credits them for bringing the team together.

As far as signing the scholarship, she called the opportunity a huge honor and privilege.

“I hope it paves the way for other people,” Washburn said. “I hope other people get the idea you can cheer in college from Nederland High School.”