Mabel-Canton senior cheerleader Katelyn Kleiboer will be eliciting school spirit next year at the University of Northern Iowa (UNI). She was selected after a day-long evaluation and competition at the McLeod Center on campus at Cedar Falls. The first round was an evaluation of tumbling, motions and memorization of the fight song and a cheer. Round two involved physical stunts. “We were split into stunt groups and evaluated on technique, personality and overall attitude,” said Kleiboer, a three-time All-American selection (National Cheerleaders Association).
“Everyone has to try out, even if they cheered in the past,” said Kleiboer, who was one of a few freshmen that made the team. She estimated there were close to 50 students vying for 34 positions. There are two separate cheerleading squads – the Gold Team and the Purple Team – who split the numerous assignments while cheering for football, volleyball, wrestling, women’s basketball and men’s basketball.
In high school, some students play volleyball or football in the fall and basketball in the winter. Meanwhile, there are two cheerleading seasons – fall and winter. During five years/10 seasons, Kleiboer was voted 14 honors by her peers –Most Dedicated nine times and Most Spirited five times. She has been a Cougar cheerleader for six years – every year eligible, starting in the seventh grade and was team captain in each of the final four years.
Spring sports is the only non-cheering season, and Kleiboer was able to compete in varsity track the last three years following one junior high softball season. For three years, she has also has been on an area competitive cheerleading team, Glitter Athletics.
This school year, Kleiboer was selected for the state coaches association Honor Team of Excellence, honoring senior cheerleaders for leadership, skills and academics (G.P.A. of 3.5 or higher). That qualified her to apply for one of seven scholarships. She was one of only four to be awarded the top prize – a $1,000 scholarship.
In a national virtual competition this past winter, Kleiboer placed first for her offensive cheer and second for her fight song and earned enough points to finish fifth overall and be honored as an “Ultimate Sideline Sweetheart.”
In addition to many community volunteer efforts, her extensive school experience has also included Dorian Honor Band, Honor Choir, being an FFA officer, speech captain, yearbook editor, Scholar Club, Cougar Mentor, National Honor Society and current vice-president of the Student Council.
She is thought to be the first Mabel-Canton student to become a cheerleader on the collegiate level, assuredly during the tenure of Cougar cheer coach Heather Kleiboer (also her mother). “My first cheerleader to go on to college and make the team!”
Still cheering for “cats” – even before a “Cougar” career of high school highlights is completed, Katelyn Kleiboer already has a stellar start as a “Panther” spirit leader.