Performing for World War II veterans gave two Murray High cheerleaders something to cheer aboutFeb 07, 2022 01:50PM ● By Julie Slama
Murray High School seniors Kylie Rosengreen and Ella Morrell perform with cheerleaders from all over the country at the Pearl Harbor memorial celebration. (Photo courtesy of Jami Morrell)
By Julie Slama | [email protected]
Two Murray High teens were among 800 cheerleaders from across the country to perform for World War II and other military veterans who gathered in Honolulu on the 80th anniversary of Pearl Harbor.
“We were in the opening ceremony, and it was streaming so people around the world could also watch it,” said high school senior Kylie Rosengreen, who has been on Murray High’s team for three years. “It was really neat to perform for all these veterans; they were so happy to see us. There were veterans who were there at the time of the bombing of Pearl Harbor and one survivor, who is over 100, maybe he’s 103, actually talked about how he’s blessed to be alive today. He was very respectful and was dressed in full uniform. It was just very cool to see.”
She said that being able to perform there was significant.
“It wasn’t like a family vacation in Hawaii,” she said. “It was to go perform and honor the people that were in Pearl Harbor and that definitely had an impact and made meaningful for us.”
Rosengreen’s Murray High teammate, senior Ella Morrell, who also has been on Murray’s team for three years, said the Pearl Harbor performance is one she’ll remember.
“I think as a teenager, I thought it would be good to be there and make people happy performing, but once I was there and experienced everything, it meant more,” she said. “I could see in the men’s faces who served for us and hear what it was like and get a sense of how much it meant to them and just how happy they were to be there. And to be able to hear the veteran who spoke and he’s one of the last survivors of Pearl Harbor, just to experience that, and to be a part of that celebration for those who served for us, will always be memorable.”
Later that day, they were one of 90 entries into the memorial parade.
“People were excited to see the huge group of cheerleaders coming down the street. People were excited; they were videoing us and clapping and laughing and they loved it. It was awesome,” Rosengreen said.
Morrell said in the parade there was one of the women who was known as a “Rosie the Riveter,” taking an industrial job on the home front when the men fought overseas.
“She was sitting in a car, and everyone saw her and were freaking out a little,” Morrell said. “It was really cool to see. Just awesome.”
Both girls were selected for the All-American cheer team last summer when Murray High’s squad attended a camp and were given the opportunity to audition. They performed a dance they learned at the camp and a cheer for the tryout where more than 300 area girls were vying for a spot on the national team.
“I think a lot of it, why we made it, was from our tumbling skills—because we had to show off those like our backhand springs, our back tucks, and just our cool little flips—and also our jumps. Flexibility was part of it,” Rosengreen said.
Once on the team, the two teens committed to learning the routines on their own so they could be part of the Pearl Harbor memorial commemoration. They were given red, white and blue uniforms and assigned front row spots on the team even though they arrived late because they stayed to compete with their high school squad at the Dec. 4 regional tournament at Cottonwood High.
“We came to Hawaii totally prepared and we only had one practice to figure out where we were going to stand and our spots and stuff. So, we all just learned the dance and performed it from a video that they sent us,” Rosengreen said.
While they missed some activities, such as seeing the Pearl Harbor Memorial with the national team, they were able to still do some other activities, such as eating at a luau, learning dances at the Polynesian Cultural Center, seeing Manoa Falls, and then, snorkeling, cliff jumping from Jumping Rock in Waimea Bay and swimming alongside sea turtles on the one day it didn’t rain.
“We were swimming and all these turtles kept coming up to us,” Morrell said. “We couldn’t touch them, of course, but we were able to be close to them so that was pretty cool. And then, we got to go cliff jumping and that was super, super cool. The sunset that night was so pretty.”
Despite the torrential rainfall, Rosengreen said it was “like 14 inches of rain in 24 hours, which was the most rain and it almost flooded there,” she still had fun. “Everyone had a very positive attitude, and we were all just very excited to be there. We were making friends and focused on why we were there.”
Now, the Murray cheerleaders’ focus is alongside the 33 Murray High cheer squad teammates who are competing first at region and then state.
“I think our competition is going to be very close with a lot of teams that are in our division,” Rosengreen said. “We practice a lot and will be focused, but that’s great because we all get along very well and like each other. We all have a very good work ethic, working hard all the time.”
After those competitions, they will compete at nationals, which the Spartans qualified at the Cottonwood High competition. The team plans to compete in United Spirit Association Nationals in the coed intermediate division Feb. 25-27 in Anaheim, California. More than 7,000 athletes are expected to showcase their talents at the national event.
“The main reason we did that comp(etition at Cottonwood High) was to qualify for nationals and that’s what we did,” Morrell said. “I am super proud of my team for doing that. I like to see everyone’s faces and when we hit our routines and seeing how happy everyone is, it just makes me feel like, ‘this is the best.’ Even if we were to be last place on a routine, I wouldn’t be mad as long as the team feels confident with what we did and put it all out there on the mat. That’s all that matters to me.”
Last year, nationals wasn’t held in person. Instead, performance videos were submitted. Murray High won the intermediate coed division.
“We sat in a classroom and set up a livestream for the awards and waited to see if our name got called,” Morrell said. “Once we got first place, everyone started standing up, clapping and cheering and people were crying. It was a good feeling to get first place, but it was sad that we weren’t able to feel that feeling in California on the floor. So, I hope we can experience it there this time.”
Her teammate agreed: “We want to win it again.”