On Thursday, Bryant’s Jaclynn Greenwood, daughter of Tracy Greenwood, signed a national letter of intent to continue her education and cheerleading career at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro.
A member of Bryant’s State champion team in 2016 and National championship team in 2017, Greenwood, who has continued to help coach cheer at Empire Cheerleading over the last three years, stepped away from the Bryant squad this year.
“I wanted to focus on my academics,” she explained. “I really wanted to show that I could do school and cheer. And to be honest, school’s something that I’ve always struggled with. So, I was like, ‘I want to be a D-1 cheerleader. I am going to take this year off and I’m going to get my grades really, really good.’ And it just so happens, my dream came true.”
ASU cheer coach Paige Pauley said, “Jaclynn’s going to be a huge asset in all aspects of the program. Just seeing her come in from day one of tryouts, always coming in looking like she’s ready to go. Jaclynn was someone that was willing to learn more than just the skills she had coming in. She’d ask questions, reach out to returners with questions. She was joy just to look at, always smiling and looking like she was genuinely excited to be at tryouts, even though it was a stressful time.”
Recalled Greenwood, “There was a four-day tryout and, the first day, we just went in there, learned the fight song, which didn’t take very long. After that, we proceeded to find out stunters. That was the most stressful part. We wanted to hurry and find those stunters so we could start working on the skills we were going to use in the tryouts. On day two, we did tumbling. You’d go up there and they’d tell us what to throw and we’d throw it. On day three, we stunted, which was a lot of fun because I got to meet so many new people within my stunt group. On day four, we performed the fight song, game-day ready, with poms and everything.
“I’ve had the opportunity to coach Jaclynn since she was in the sixth grade,” said Brooke Placke of Empire. “She walked into the Bryant Middle School gym and that kid had no clue. But she was one of the most determined children and, now, young women I’ve ever met, whether it’s school or in the community or investing in other kids’ lives every single week. She truly lives like she believes.
“I told Paige, you have no idea what you’ve just gotten,” she added. “Jaclynn is going to be a true blessing at Arkansas State.”
“I was dead-set on ASU because it has a great Occupational Therapy program and that’s something I’ve always wanted to do,” Greenwood related. “I love the idea of helping people out. It just so happened that they had a great cheer team and not a lot of D-1 schools advertise that they have an all-girl team as well as co-ed. Most of the time, on the football field at a D-1 school, all you see is the guy throwing the girl up. I wanted to be the girl throwing the girl up with four other girls. So, I just thought ASU was a perfect fit for me.”
“Jaclynn was on varsity cheer for her sophomore and junior years,” acknowledged Bryant cheer coach Karen Scarlett. “She’s a phenomenal athlete, first of all. One of the strongest bases on the floor I’ve ever had. She’s determined. She perseveres. She’s willing to work hard, push herself. She was an excellent tumbler and all-around, just a great cheerleader.
“It’s kind of hard to find all those skills in one person,” she added. “We were just talking recently about how cheerleading is different from other sports. In, say, football, for instance, if you’re the quarterback, you focus on being the quarterback. But, in cheer, you’ve got to be able to cheer, have good motion technique. You have to be able to stunt. You have to be able to tumble and you’ve got to be able to put all that together to make a competition routine that’s pleasing to the eye and scores well on the score sheet.”
“Here, I have learned so much,” Greenwood said of her experience at Bryant. “There were times during competition season, being on Bryant Varsity where we struggled, and we struggled hard. And we didn’t think that we were going to make it. But, through those struggles, I’ve gotten a national championship and a state championship. It was a great experience here and I’m going to take so much out of it, like perseverance and things like that.
“I’ve always looked up to other cheerleaders, especially the really good ones, the level 5,” she noted. “I was like, ‘I want to be that.’ So, I set my mind and got it done.”
Pauley said the ASU program is becoming more and more competitive.
“I started at Arkansas State in August 2013 and, at that point, A-State did not compete,” she mentioned. “The last time we competed was in the late 80’s, early 90’s. So, we wanted to get them back on the map.
“I decided that first year probably wasn’t the best time to get them going so we kind of took a year to start training and changing the culture of our program,” she continued. “The second year, we started competing. We went to the UCA College Nationals and got dead last. We’re not even ashamed. We got 26thout of 26. The next year, we came in and we went from 26thto ninth in one year. From there, we’ve moved up in the rankings. This past season, we placed sixth, which is the best in school history at UCA college nationals.
“This year, we’ll be going to NCAA college nationals, which will be in Daytona,” Pauley said. “We’re really excited about that as well. It’s going to change up some of our practice schedules and the skills that we’re going to need moving forward. We’re extremely excited to have Jaclynn on our squad.”