But Bobcat cheerleader Madi Preston and the rest of the award-winning cheerleaders were undaunted by stares and questions — it comes naturally with experience before thousands of football fans under Friday night lights.
The All-American Cheerleaders were in London for the annual New Year’s Day Parade. But Madi had an advantage, she was still in practice.
Madi was the only person who was still cheering just weeks before the trip.
“It was an honor representing RHS,” Madi said.
The high school junior made All-American during cheer camp in Austin last summer. The one-week vacation to England was the reward.
From a jaunt through London Bridge, Tower of London, her majesty’s theater, museums, Windsor Castle and cruising the Thames, Madi’s days were packed with nine-hour tours of the city and plays in the evening. Out her hotel window, she had a view of the river and the bridge.
About the vacation, she said, “I wanted to do something on my own. But it would have been nice to have gone with someone you already knew. I’m definitely going back.”
Laryn Treviño, a Beeville Trojan cheerleader, and Katelyn Hunt of Calhoun, her roommate, hit it off instantly, and managed do what most girls like to do — shop and see what they learned about in history books.
Standing in the exact spot where Anne Boleyn’s head was cut, by order of King Henry, Madi said all the hours spent in Mr. (Robert) Delk’s history class paid off.
“I was actually seeing what I had learned,” she said.
London was full of surprises.
“I’ve never seen so many pale, fair-haired people anywhere before,” she said. “London is extremely crowded and when it rains, and everyone puts up an umbrella, it really gets crowded.”
The ability to purchase an umbrella in cafés, shops and just about everywhere else, seemed unusual to the 16-year-old.
Every café also had a cloak room. Luckily, they only had one day of rain. Other heretofore secrets of the city were unveiled.
“There are so many cafés but they’re all very small and only hold about 15 people,” Madi said.
The trip made the years of practicing and learning cheer techniques worthwhile.
“I started cheerleading camp in Refugio when Morgan (Bellows, Madi’s first cousin) was a cheerleader and now I get to teach the younger kids,” Madi says
Before moving to Refugio her freshman year, Madi was on the junior high cheer squad in Goliad. Her brother Ben was already in Refugio so she opted to transfer, as well. She doesn’t regret it.
“There’s so much pride and spirit here,” Madi said. “Being in such a small school and knowing everyone makes everything so personal.”
The cheerleader has already set a goal for her senior year.
“If I make All-American again, I’m going to Rome next year,” Madi says.