What started out as a ‘joke’ to tryout for cheerleading turned into a life-changing decision for DaNarius Kirby. “I didn’t really think that I would go through with the tryouts, but going to the practices and learning the skills made me really fall in love with the sport,” said Kirby. Kirby didn’t start cheering until the 11th grade as part of the first co-ed squad at Chattooga High School. “It was our first year doing coed so EVERYONE had no experience, including myself,” remembers cheer coach, Liza Morgan.
Kirby was half-way dared into attending the try out. It was a decision that, on April 9, 2016, would eventually make Kirby a NCAA National Champion as a Louisville Cardinal.
“To be a national champion was my goal. To be a national champion for Louisville in the large coed division means the world….people honestly doubted us. It was a rebuilding year for the program but we went into Daytona and we hit our peak then. To me, nothing in this world could ever even compare to being a Louisville Champion.”
Kirby said he realized during his first year of cheering that a college scholarship was a real possibility for him “I pretty much set getting a college scholarship as a goal just because it was easier for me to go to school that way and not have my mom worrying about a lot of student loans.”
Chattooga Cheer Coach, Liza Morgan worked hard to help DaNarius achieve his goal of a college scholarship. Morgan said, “…after about the first 6 months, it became obvious that DaNarius had the stunt skills to cheer somewhere pretty big collegiately. I had a good relationship with Chase Carter, who had been at Shorter as a G.A. and was taking over/beginning the Young Harris program. ‘D’ signed there and the rest is history. He got involved in NCA/UCA camp staff and built a relationship with the Louisville Program.”
DeNarius transferred into Louisville to reach his second goal, winning a national championship.
When asked what makes cheerleading so special to him, Kirby replied, “It’s something that I truly love doing and even if I could go back and choose a different sport I wouldn’t, because this sport is something that you have to learn how to be good at. You don’t just walk right in to it and start lifting people over your head or flipping & twisting your body. It seriously is a unique sport and its really all about being mentally tough when it comes to the skills that you do.”
The Louisville “large coed” Cheerleading team holds 15 National Cheerleading Championships but the 2016 championship was Kirby’s first. He hopes it won’t be his last.