RINGLING — Around a small community like Ringling, Oklahoma, it’s hard not to stand out when you are a member of the Lady Blue Devils varsity cheer squad.

Editors Note: This is part of a series profiling the finalists for the 2019 Cheerleader of the Year award, which will be announced at the Best of the Arbuckles Preps banquet in May. 

RINGLING — Around a small community like Ringling, Oklahoma, it’s hard not to stand out when you are a member of the Lady Blue Devils varsity cheer squad.

This challenge is made even more difficult for one Lydia Bracken, but it’s one she’s proud to have.

As a two-year member of the varsity cheer squad, Bracken hasn’t seen cheerleading as a challenge but more of a journey and an experience of bringing smiles to those around her, and helping them realize she isn’t just about one thing in life.

“The best part about being a Ringling cheerleader, has been seeing all the little kids look up to me,” Bracken said. “I’ll have kids run up to me at football games and hug me, and they’ll always ask what it’s like to be a cheerleader, and that’s really special for me. Another great part has been being able to represent the community of Ringling and be an example for everyone.”

As is the case with most athletes in Ringling, Bracken isn’t just a member of one organization at her high school.

Along with her cheer experience, Bracken has been a member of the RHS Flag Corps for five years, the RHS band for five years, as well as Fellowship of Christian Athletes (four years), and the Student Council for six years.

She’s also a two-year member of the National Honor Society and a one year member of the Oklahoma Honor Society.

Lydia was also voted as Miss RHS for the 2018-19 school year, as well as Best All Around by her classmates on the senior special awards.

While this proud Lady Blue Devil cheer athlete is actively involved in her school, she does much of the same in her community as well.

Bracken is a member of the Assembly of God youth group, and has volunteered for Toys for Tots, as well as the PTO Fall Festival, the Ringling Color Run, Trunk or Treat, Community Clean Up, along with food and blood drives.

“It was stressful being involved in so much to be honest,” Bracken said. “At our school though, the faculty helps out so much by making sure things are on different days, so they try and make sure we have every opportunity to manage our time responsibly.” 

Bracken admitted that she also credits her cheer coach Aaron Blackwell for helping her grow not just as a cheerleader, but as a better person.

“Miss Blackwell did cheer in high school, and she is very good at her job,” she said. “If I ever had a problem, then I could go to her and she would help me fix it. I’ve grown so much in so many ways because of her being my coach.”

This past December, Bracken added another accomplishment to her resume, as she was named to the All-Ardmoreite cheer team.

With her future goals set up in front of her, the Ringling senior now has her sights set on being the first ever Cheerleader of the Year.

“I think winning the award would show people that cheerleaders don’t just cheer at football and basketball games,” Bracken said. “It would mean a lot to myself, my school and my community to carry this honor.”

Following graduation, Bracken will begin her education at Southeastern Oklahoma State University, with plans to attend OU Dental School in the future, before hopefully becoming an orthodontist.