Cheer team brings in new assistant coaches, raises expectations


Megan Scarano

Jennifer Weems (left) and Victoria Newman (right) pose for a picture in the Eddie S. Henderson stadium.

Megan Scarano

As fall season sports begin, the cheer team is back in action with new additions to the coaching staff.

Jennifer Weems, the assistant varsity football sideline and competition coach, is one of the new additions to the staff. It is her first experience as an assistant cheer coach.

“It’s been great. It’s been a fun experience, a lot of new faces and new skills, a new variety of skills,” Weems said. “This is our first competition year, so there’s been a whole lot of learning, and it’s a lot of fun.”

Weems cheered from middle school through college. She grew up in Douglasville, Georgia, not far from Midtown, and attended Chapel Hill High School.

“It was fun, football games were always a blast as well as competitions,” Weems said. “I grew up with a lot of people on the team so we were all pretty familiar with each other and had similar skills so it was a lot of fun.”

Weems said that the cancellation of Midtown’s varsity football season, while disappointing, has turned into a positive thing for the competition team.

“I think it has allowed us to focus more on competition and developing our skills as a team as well as tumbling,” Weems said.

Victoria Newman is the new assistant cheer competition coach, and like Weems it is her first time coaching cheer.

“While I haven’t coached before, I have had a variety of coaches who have all championed me to be the best version of myself and the best athlete I can be,” Newman said. “My hope is to bring the pieces that I have loved from my coaches to the team here at Midtown. “

Newman grew up in Forsyth County and cheered for eight years. Newman said cheerleading was a huge part of her high school career.

“I cheered all 4 years of high school and loved the program and my teammates,” Newman said. “I come from a program who takes cheerleading very seriously and our competition team has won state 8 times since the program began.”

Head Coach Lexy Smolko said she was thankful for the addition of Weems and Newman.

“There is literally no way I could have done this alone. I hired two [coaches], I think I was only supposed to hire one but I really fought for my second coach, they’re great,” Smolko said. “Coach Weems is certified in tumbling and Coach Newman comes from a super successful cheer program, South Forsyth, and they are [eight] time state champions.”

The cheer team has never had more than one coach. Varsity cheer captain Hannah Doherty said that new coaches brought an increased sense of stability.

“It’s been great to have a constant presence of a coach because you can really get comfortable with them,” varsity cheer captain Hannah Doherty said. “We can discuss any problems and it’s better for the team and so I definitely like this better than past years.”

Doherty said the coaches have also brought high expectations.

“I have personally liked all of the coaches that I’ve had, but I think these coaches are more experienced and more prepared for this role,” Doherty said. “I think that has been better for the team. They definitely expect more from us than coaches have in the past.”

With no varsity football team to cheer for, the girls have shifted their focus to their competition season.

“I think we are all excited to focus on competition because we haven’t been able to have a competition team for the past two years,” Doherty said. “Because of Covid and not having a coach, we are excited.”

The team practices Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, and occasionally on the weekends. They have been consistently preparing for the season in anticipation of the program’s first competition in two years.

“We are excited to rebuild the program and introduce competition,” Smolko said. “As long as the girls are proud of their performance at the end of each competition, that’s my goal.”