Breahna McCool, 22-year-old graduate assistant from Bauxite, didn’t have her sights on coaching cheer when she graduated with her bachelor’s degree in speech communication.
Breahna grew up in the cheer community. Her mother, Carla McCool, owned and operated the gymnastics and cheer gym, Back to Basics, in Bauxite. Breahna began cheering in junior high and continued all the way until she graduated college. With 12 years of cheer experience under her belt, Breahna said she doesn’t know anything but cheer.
“I’ve grown up around it my whole life, so I don’t know anything different,” she said. “If I didn’t have it, I wouldn’t know what to do with my free time.”
Breahna said she loves the atmosphere of games. She has fun getting the crowd involved and seeing them get excited about school spirit. But one of her favorite parts of cheer is getting to be a role model to young girls and boys.
But because she’s no longer cheering, she’s had to find a new activity to fill her time. Since she’s used to being so active, Breahna said she started running this summer and runs nearly every day.
Breahna said every day for her is packed, not including her school work. She goes to work in the office, coaches cheer practice, goes for a run, and by then, it’s time for dinner. Certain days of the week, she goes to church, and then it’s time for bed.
While searching for graduate assistant positions, Breahna said the graduate assistantship for spirit squads opened up and fell right into her lap. Her contract began on July 1.
Knowing the cheer team on a personal level brought excitement, but also some nerves. Breahna said she was worried about how her peers would react.
“I was a little nervous because there were some people this year who I cheered with last year, but everyone seems to be enjoying it now, and they all respect me and they call me “Coach Bre,” since they can’t call me by my first name,” she said, laughing.
Breahna said that she feels the need to win people over, which is one of the hardest parts of coaching.
“When people are mad at me or don’t like me, it bothers me,” she said. “I have to be strict and tough on them, especially since I’m so young. It’s hard to do, but I do it.”
Breahna said that most challenging part of cheering is learning how to manage time.
The game day cheerleaders practice five days a week, two hours per day and have two 6 a.m. workouts per week. They are required to complete two monitored study hall hours and two study hours on their own. On top of that, they have to attend classes, cheer at football, volleyball and basketball games and find time to visit family.
“They’re always on the go,” Breahna said. “But with cheerleading, they learn time management, team work and accountability.”
Breahna is a first-generation college student. She is the first to go to college and graduate school. Ending her education with a high school diploma wasn’t an option for her.
“I just wanted to better myself, support myself and one day have a family and support them, she said. “I’ve just always wanted to come to college and do better with my life.”
Now pursuing a master’s degree in College Student Personnel, she said she’s more open to coaching full time because of her experience here at Tech.