Off the Gridiron - Reading High School cheerleaders

'They are proving to be leaders'

READING, Pa. - They have moves on the field, but it's the moves they make off the field that will really get you cheering for Reading.

"It makes you feel like you're apart of something, like a sisterhood," said Jada Thompson, a senior at Reading High School.

Four years ago, Reading cheerleading coach Crystal Gilmore-Harris got together with the Girl Scouts and came up with an idea. Why not turn the squad into a troop? It went so well, she made it mandatory.

"You have to become a part of Girl Scouts, along with community service that we do throughout the year," said Gilmore-Harris.

The cheerleaders stepped right up.

"You can be more of a community with other girls," said Janeice Burns, an RHS junior. "You can meet girls like you and get to know them.

They wear their earned badges at games, and they do community service projects with the Brownies.

"Because they look up to you and it's so adorable," Burns said.

"And it helps to build your character, too," said Iyani Robinson, a junior. "You get to see how all the little girls look up to you and stuff, so it makes you want to carry yourself in a better manner."

"These girls are going places," said Cathy Ganter, program manager for the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania. "Them being cheerleaders is icing on the cake for me, because they're Girl Scouts, and they have that spirit in them, and they are 100 percent supportive of each other."

"They're already being leaders right now on the cheerleading squad, and they're leaders in their community, and they are proving to be leaders for the younger girls that are coming up," said Valencia Lea-Reigel, lead program implementer for Berks County.

They're proud of being the only known cheerleading squad in the country to also be a Girl Scout troop, but they're especially proud to be doing this here.

"Because someone sees Reading, like they say bad things about it, but they see we're in Girl Scouts, and they think, 'Oh, you're trying to do something,' and it puts a good name on us," Burns said.

"You can't compete with what we give back to our community," said Gilmore-Harris.

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