(Courtesy of Detroit Public Schools)
You won’t find statistics on Capri’Nara Kendall in a box score. But as the senior captain of Cass Tech High’s cheer leading team, Kendall considers her sideline role to be as vital to the Technicians’ athletics program as anything that happens on the football field or basketball court.
“We do everything the sports teams do,’’ said Kendall, only the second cheer leader to be named Detroit Public School League Proud Strong Learner of the Week.
“A lot of people don’t even think of cheer leading as a sport. So to be acknowledged for something I feel so very passionately about, I’m very happy. I always wanted to be Proud Strong Learner of the Week.”
For as long as she can remember, Kendall wanted to be a Cass Tech cheer leader.
“I’ve been cheering since I was in the first grade,” she said. “I’ve been in DPS the whole time, and I also cheered for the West Side Cubs youth organization. As a freshman, I tried out for the cheer team at Cass and I was so happy when I made it. I’m really excited to be the captain my senior year. It’s been my dream since I was a kid to be captain.”
As captain, Kendall said she’s always cognizant of putting the team first.
“I have 14 other girls to think about, so what I do is important,” she said. “I set the bar. Cheer leading is not just ‘rah, rah, rah.’ You have to have the skill level to make people want to look at you and follow. The cheer leading team here is known for being excellent and top of the line. That’s another reason I came to Cass.”
Cass Tech cheer coach Sophia Sims credits Kendall’s feel for the game with accentuating her ability to lead the cheers. “She knows the game and she’s passionate about it,’’Sims said.
The Technicians’ favorite cheer is “Rock It Out,’’ a routine they’ll do Saturday at 1 p.m. when the football team faces Utica Eisenhower in the Division 1 state semifinal game at Troy Athens High School. “When we do that cheer, everybody gets into it,’’ Kendall said.
With a 3.41 grade point average, Kendall plans to go to college and pursue a degree in athletic training with a minor in sports management. She said “being smart in the classroom” has helped her become a better cheer leader.
“I’m proud to say that my GPA has been above 3.0 the whole time at Cass,” she said. “Cheer leading is a lifestyle and, in and out of school, people know you. So you have to keep your reputation up at all times. You have to make sure you’re respected. Being a good student is part of that.”
More than anything, Kendall said being a good cheer leader has helped her become a better person.
“I’ve learned a lot about myself,” she said. “I’ve learned to become more open and receptive to other people’s opinions. To be a good leader, you have to know when to follow, and I thank our previous captains for teaching me that. It’s not just about any one girl. As a team, we’re only as strong as our weakest link.”