Mother, daughter duos make cheering a family tradition

Two, four, six, eight, cheerleading may be a genetic fate.

Hillsboro High School students Lauryn Mayfield and Sydney Waner share more in common than a love for leading cheers for the Trojan basketball teams this winter.

Each of their mothers led cheers on the same squad at Marion High School in the 1980s.

For the daughters, trying out for the cheerleading team as freshmen was a simple choice-and they are now in their third year as juniors. But for their moms, trying out meant much more than that.

As teammates on the MHS squad, Lisa (Hess) Mayfield and Valerie (Smith) Duerksen, strengthened what has become a lifelong friendship.

“We were good friends but when we began cheerleading together our friendship developed even more,” said Mayfield.

Mayfield and Duerksen grew up in the same Marion neighborhood and attended school together through high school, often being in the same class.

As a juniors, Mayfield and Duerksen were looking for something to be involved in.

“The only thing I was doing was track, and I needed something to put some positive energy into,” Mayfield said.

An older friend and former cheerleader gave Mayfield and Duerksen the confidence to try out for the squad.

“After you become one, you just have so much fun,” said Mayfield.

For the outgoing and perky duo, cheerleading was the perfect fit, Duerksen said.

“In junior high, we played sports and ran track and then we both ran track in high school,” she said. “We always did some of the same things, but this was the most fun.”

The two high school friends never envisioned having daughters who would follow in their footsteps and along parallel paths.

“A lot of times you graduate from high school and everyone goes their own way and you see them at reunions,” Mayfield said. “But that wasn’t the case with us.”

The two friends became pregnant with Lauryn and Sydney about the same time. Their due dates were only 10 days apart.

“She ended up having Sydney on my due date,” Mayfield said.

“And she had Lauryn on mine,” Duerksen added.

The mothers’ strong relationship set a solid foundation for the friendship the developed between their daughters.

“When Lisa had Lauryn, she still lived in Marion and we got together a lot when they were really little,” Duerksen said.

Mayfield moved to Hillsboro with husband Dale’s job; Duerksen and her family made the transition a few years later.

Like their mothers, the daughters have attended the same school together since kindergarten.

As children, they would often leave to play when their mothers began to reminisce about their cheerleading past.

“It was something we knew they had been,” Lauryn said. “In high school we decided it was something we would try.”

Since making the squad as freshmen, the girls have participated in both flyer and base positions. They enjoyed being younger members of the squad, which allowed them to learn more and try new things.

“It’s a lot of work for them,” Duerksen said. “People don’t realize how much practice they put in and how much they support in the school.”

This was the biggest difference the mothers have seen in the sport from their days at MHS.

“We practiced, but I wouldn’t say we practiced like they practice,” Duerksen said. “We would if we had something special coming up, like a halftime performance. But, really, we didn’t practice every night after school like they do now.”

In addition to practicing and then cheering at football and basketball games, the squad has fund-raisers and works at concession stands to raise money to help support their activities.

“When we cheered, we cheered for football or basketball only,” Lisa Mayfield said. “They aren’t necessarily cheering for the other sports, but they are making posters, doing concessions or presenting awards.”

The daughters are quick to say the biggest change they’ve noticed from their mothers’ day is the uniforms they wear.

Groaning as their mothers mention the bulky sweaters that were once part of the uniform, the daughters express gratitude for the matching warmups and accessories of the modern day.

“They’ll ask if we really had to wear the long-sleeved sweaters,” Duerksen said. “They have so much cooler stuff now than what we had.”

Mothers Duerksen and Mayfield wonder if in the future their girls will see the rivalry between Hillsboro and Marion match the level they experienced in the 1980s.

“When we were in high school, Hillsboro and Marion were big rivals,” Mayfield said. “Since our kids have grown up, we really haven’t been in the same league. Now they are again, so I wonder if that will come back.”

While the cheers and uniforms have changed through the years, the mothers still find common ground with their daughters-often accompanied by laughter.

“I remember the dance we learned at cheer camp and I tried to do it one time for Lauryn, but she was totally embarrassed,” Mayfield said.

Today, Lauryn and Sydney attend the same summer cheer camp at Emporia State University that their mothers did.

“When we went, our parents took us, dropped us off and came back a week later,” Duerksen said. “Today, their coach goes, stays with them and supports them.”

While on the HHS team, the girls have been coached by Dawn Unruh and Megan Kilgore.

“They’ve been really different coaches, but they’ve both been really good and supportive,” Lauryn said. 

More meaningful to both girls, though, is having their mothers in the crowd to support them. Both mothers make it a point to attend all performances possible, both home and away.

“They have a good support system in each of us,” Mayfield said.  

“When they do a cheer that says to stand and clap, that’s what we do,” Duerksen said. “That’s our role. We offer them our support.”

The mothers agree that not only has the sport come a long way, but so has their relationship and its effect on their daughters’ relationship.

“It brings us both great joy to watch them,” Mayfield said. “We can’t help but look back and reminisce about ourselves at that age.”

Kindra Goertzen, a communications major at Tabor College, is an intern at the Free Press during January.

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