As the Hazard boys’ basketball team was on its way to pick up a big win in the first round of the state tournament against South Laurel, the cheerleading squad, made up of 15 members, were being judged on their performance on the sidelines.
Sixteen cheerleading squads were judged during the first round, and during half time of Hazard’s game Friday evening against Shelby County the announcement was made that the Bulldogs’ cheerleaders had won the trophy.
Kathy Patrick, who only began coaching the squad in January, said while the basketball team had to make it to the Sweet Sixteen before the cheerleaders could compete, they had been preparing all year. “We had done the in-game for the All A and the WYMT Classic, so we were prepared for this all year,” she said. “They practice four or five days a week for a couple hours a day.”
While the girls on Hazard’s squad were used to smaller venues, cheering in famed Rupp Arena did give them an opportunity to gain experience on a larger stage. “It was much more than they’re used to and it was a great opportunity for the girls,” Patrick said.
Hazard High School has only one cheerleading squad which cheers for both the boys and girls teams. Patrick noted that while the girls on the sidelines and in practice nearly every day won the trophy, they were helped along this year by supporters and the school’s own pep section. “I was very proud of the girls this year. They worked really hard and overcame a lot of obstacles,” she said. “But we can’t do it without our pep section and band. This comes from crowd involvement, and we couldn’t do it without them.”