Roberts cheerleaders win awards, ‘bring home the banana’

Cheerleaders from M.D. Roberts Middle School at camp in Athens with their “spirit” banana.

Special Cheerleaders from M.D. Roberts Middle School at camp in Athens with their “spirit” banana.

JONESBORO — Cheerleaders from M.D. Roberts Middle School may have won top prizes for dance and fight-song performance at a recent University of Georgia cheer camp.

But the ultimate prize was ... a banana. A “spirit” banana.

The banana — a “big plastic blow-up” thing, said coach Karen Lee — was more symbolic than anything. Different teams would win it each night of the Universal Cheer Association camp held in Athens earlier this month, the girls would sign it, then another team would win it the next night. The Roberts squad got to keep it the last night.

“They wanted to bring home the banana,” Lee said with a laugh.

The real prizes, though, were first-place honors in home dance and fight-song performance. Roberts’ 16 cheerleaders competed against both middle and high schools to win the coveted awards.

Roberts also won first place in middle-school cheer division and second place in middle-school dance division. Leah Crump, Tempest Craig, Javiece Joseph and Jasmine Brown won All-American Cheerleader honors and Brown was the middle-school jump-off champion.

Other members of Roberts’ champion team are Brittany Diah, Kirsten Dudley, Nyla Howard, Ikya Kenyatta, Miranda Miranda, Elisabeth Nguyen, Courage Omodibo, Markaria Porter, Kyler Ray, Raeven Smith, Alexis Walker and Alexis Wilson.

More than 500 girls from more than 30 squads across Georgia participated in the camp.

“They have come such a long way,” said Lee, who also teaches language arts at Roberts. “When they tried out, we had so many newbies that had not cheered before. They worked hard all summer long.”

Lee, who lives in Riverdale and has coached the Roberts cheerleaders for eight years, said she was proud of all of them.

“My expectations are very high,” she said. “We’ve always done well, but this by far was the most successful year.”

The Roberts squad also conducted a mini cheer camp for a recreational squad in McDonough earlier this year as a way of “staying connected to the community” as well as rounding out the girls’ educational experience, Lee said.