By Ben Simmons
ELKINS - When the West Virginia University Mountaineers return to the gridiron this August, Elkins High School alumni April Kesling will be on the sidelines cheering for the blue and gold.
Elkins native April Kesling was selected as a West Virginia University cheerleader.
"It's always been my dream since I was a little girl," Kesling said. "When I went to my first Mountaineer game, I immediately knew I wanted to be a WVU cheerleader. I told my coaches that it was my goal. They taught me all they could and they did a fantastic job. I tried out for the team and I was able to reach my dream. I think it's pretty awesome, especially coming from such a small town."
Kesling, a sophomore, was recently selected to cheer for the Gold squad, which is the varsity equivalent for cheerleaders. The Gold squad cheers at both football and men's basketball games. As a freshman, Kesling cheered on the Blue squad.
According to Kesling, earning a spot on the cheer squad isn't an easy task. It has taken a lifetime of dedication and hard work. While in high school, she was a four-year letterman for the Elkins Tigers, while also training at the Center Stage Studio of Dance and with the Axis All-Stars. She also got a job performing with the dancers at the Gandy Dancer Theater.
"It really takes a lot of dedication," Kesling said. "Every weekend we have something to do. We practice three days a week, plus I'm carrying 18 credit hours. A lot of girls don't want to put in the time and effort it takes to make it. I dedicated myself to my dream to be able to make it. I put everything I had into it."
Kesling says the bond between teammates is her favorite part of being a member of the squad.
"I love having the family atmosphere," Kesling said. "I like being able to see everyone's faces when they see how much work and dedication we put into it. I always refer to my teammates as family because we are very close. We spend a lot of time together and it makes us very close."
Although she's reached the pinnacle of success at the collegiate level, Kesling says she's proud of her small town roots.
"It's such an honor to be able to cheer for the Mountaineers," Kesling said. "I'm very proud to be from Elkins. It's such a small town and to be able to go to such a big place and make such a big squad, it feels amazing."
Kesling is the daughter of Robert and Alesia Kesling of Elkins.