Sammy Surgala is an outstanding young woman. She is modest, polite, hardworking, kind, and fierce. She is also a flyer on the MPC cheer team that just won their tenth straight state title, and Sammy is the perfect example of why. She has been on the state winning team as a Freshman and Sophomore, but her journey with cheer started long before that.
This is Sammy’s tenth year in cheer. She did nine as an all-star, mostly with The Stingrays, and five at MPC, starting in the sixth grade.
As a flyer, Sammy takes on the role of the top girl. It takes flexibility, body control, and confidence. Flyers are responsible for getting the crowd involved, and they represent the stunt group in the air.
Sammy says that each girl has a role on the team. She likes to see herself as an encourager, and the seniors take on most of the correction and leadership roles. A good cheer team has to have a special bond like a family. There has to be trust and support, and for the MPC cheer team, God has to be in everything.
There have been many lessons learned through cheer. Coach Paige Johnson has been a strong mentor for the girls. She has taught the girls to persevere when times are hard, to look to God always, and to be the best teammates they can be. She starts each practice in the word, and she wants her athletes to be as strong spiritually as they are physically. Coach Johnson has also taught them to go the extra mile and strive for excellence. Sammy said this has helped her in academics, her spiritual life, and her training.
Training for Sammy consists of conditioning, stamina-building repetitions, and anything it takes to reach perfection. The team practices three times a week in the summer for a minimum of two hours, and they work on team bonding. When school starts, they practice four days a week after school and sometimes they have additional practices at night. The team dedicates itself to pushing to be the best it can be. They also attend weekly tumble classes, and there are private lessons to work on individual skills. Extra time has to be spent in the gym, and in classes in order to improve.
Sammy says that Coach Johnson puts an emphasis on the strength of being a unified team, and how that can drastically change your abilities. They begin the season with the same goal in mind, and they encourage each other as they strive to build each other up. It is a team sport, not an individual one. Sammy says, “I would not be the same person without the lessons this group has taught me. When one member of the group is down, someone else helped with the burdens. Cheer has been an outlet in my life, full of fun, encouragement, and life-long bonds.” She also states that the team would not be what it is without Coach Johnson. She has strengthened the program not just when it comes to skills, but also spiritually and to teach our female athletes life lessons.
Any sport commitment involves the whole community, and Sammy’s parents are good examples of this. Her mom says, “Cheer has taught Sammy self-discipline, time-management, how to respect adults, and commitment. Through cheer, Sammy has a passion for something wholesome and safe. She devotes hours to get better. She has learned how to speak up for herself, make corrections, and sacrifice for her team. It’s the thing that has come alongside us to partner in raising her as a hardworking, kind, young lady. I still cry when she takes the mat and comes off all smiles, not because of what she did on the floor, but because I know what it meant to her to hit the routine she has poured countless hours into.”
Sammy would like to cheer in college, and she knows she will have to stay focused and work hard to make the dream a reality. Knowing Sammy, she will fly right through any challenges, and make the athletes around her better too.