COLUMBIA – Lindsey McGuire thought she was finished with cheerleading after graduating from Plato High School, but now she works to turn cheer into a legitimate sport for a group of high school cheerleaders.

McGuire, 20, is a junior studying interpersonal communications at the University of Missouri. In addition to her studies and other school-related activities, McGuire coaches cheerleading for Blair Oaks High School in Wardsville, just south of Jefferson City.

McGuire was very active throughout her high school career and enjoyed her small-town life in Plato, but always dreamed of going to a large school. She approached her high school counselor as a student and asked which school was the biggest in the state. This brought her to Mizzou.

“I was ready to get out and go big,” she said.

Although her hometown has a population of less than 100, McGuire had no problems transitioning to life at Mizzou.

“It was awesome,” said McGuire, “I came, I loved it, I loved the people, I loved seeing new faces every day.”

McGuire started coaching the Blair Oaks cheerleading team in December. She makes the 39-mile drive three times a week. Most days, she wakes up at 6:45 a.m. and gets home at 11 p.m.

“It has to be hard for her, being in college,” said Megan Reinkemeyer, the cheerleading captain at Blair Oaks. “We are all thankful for her, and we are excited about next year.”

McGuire said she wants to bring in more choreography and ideas. She plans to coach until she graduates from college.

She has told the girls, “I’ll love you no matter what. I’m not leaving. I’m committed to you guys.”

McGuire is thankful for the opportunity to make an impact on so many young people. She admits she wouldn’t have hired herself, but Blair Oaks gave her a shot. When she started coaching, she questioned herself and her capabilities, but she is learning a lot.

“It taught me a lot about being responsible for someone else and making decisions about what is best for other people,” she pointed out. “Love is giving you what you need, not what you want.”

The experience opened many more doors for McGuire. This summer, she will coach at K-2 athletic camp at Kanakuk, a Christian summer camp organization. Usually, Kanakuk only chooses college athletes to teach, but McGuire is an exception because of her coaching skills.

“God has opened up doors in cheer,” expressed McGuire, “something I thought I was done with.”

McGuire will be gone for an entire month this summer coaching cheer at K-2.

“Cheerleading is looked on as an activity, not as a sport,” said Reinkemeyer, “She is helping us be seen as a sport.”

McGuire is extremely humble about her undertakings and thankful for her opportunities, saying, “I haven’t done anything except live my life and take opportunities.”

As a Christian, she holds firm to the belief that her success isn’t the work of her hands, but the work of God’s hands.

“This is not a Lindsey story, this is a God story,” she concluded.

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