In The Spotlight: ORHS Cheerleader Serena Bufton-VonArb

So, you want to know what the life of a dedicated cheerleader is like?

Back in the day, high school cheerleaders cheered at high school events and were not involved with outside competitions. You cheered for your high school and although you had to be talented to be involved in Cheer, it is nothing compared to the acrobatic, contortionist-like athletic maneuvers they are performing now even at the youth levels.

There are national competitions, select teams and so much more. High school Cheer doesn’t scratch the surface when you look at the whole picture. Yet, it appears that cheerleaders utilize their school Cheer squads as their foundation.

In speaking with our In The Spotlight subject, Oak Ridge high school senior, Serena Bufton-VonArb, you can tell she cherishes her high school cheer squad as do all of her fellow teammates. However, as you will see, these athletes have so much more going on outside of Oak Ridge high school’s walls.

Ladies and gentlemen, ORHS Cheerleader Serena Bufton-VonArb:

How long have you been cheerleading?

I’ve been cheering for 8 years including this season. My mom had me dancing at 18 months and I continued that for 9 years before starting competitive cheer.

What got you into it? Was anyone instrumental in inspiring you to get into Cheer?

When I moved to the Oak Ridge area in 5th grade, my mom was looking for dance studios to get me back into dance. Then we heard about Woodlands Elite Cheer Co. through our neighbors so we went to check it out. I fell in love with the gym, had a tryout, and was on a team the next week. I didn’t have any prior cheer skills before trying out but I started tumbling classes and it came sort of natural to me.

Of course, I didn’t start at the level I’m at now. I started on a level 3 team, then the next season I moved up to level 4. By my 7th grade year I was on a level 5 squad and in my 8th grade year I was on both Woodlands Elite’s junior level 5 team and senior level 5 team.

You are on ORHS cheer and select cheer. Describe positives of both.

Being an all-star cheerleader has really helped me gain the talent I need for high school cheerleading. I’ve also met a lot of people from cheerleading. I get to have many friends that all love the same thing as me.

A positive of being an all-star cheerleader is all of the competitions I have competed in. Just the competitions have made me work so hard for the sport I love in order to try to be the best of the best at nationals or worlds.
Since I am on two different teams, practices take up a lot of my time. This has definitely kept me out of trouble and kept my focus on academics and cheer.

You have been a lot of places because of Cheer. Describe how it has helped you grow as a person.

I went to London during Winter Break of my junior year because I was a UCA All-American. I was in the London New Year’s Day Parade. The experience was amazing getting to see all of the historic stuff in London.
I’ve also competed with the Generals in Florida, Oklahoma, and Georgia. Getting to go to all of these different places for cheerleading is incredible. When I get to compete in a different state, I feel like all of my hard work is paying off.

Describe the camaraderie the ORHS Cheer team has. Is it similar to the Select cheer togetherness or different altogether?

It’s similar because we all love what we do and we work hard to be the best in the different competitions we are involved in. I have great friends in both.

Where have you lived? Introduce us to your family.

I grew up in Alvin, Texas. My parents got divorced when I was young, but my stepdad, Kerry, has been a father figure to me for 11 years now. He adopted me a couple of years ago. My family is very supportive of my cheerleading. They attend every football game and competition. It helps that my sister and I are on Oak Ridge and Generals together and my older brother lives just down the road from us. We are a really close family.

Talk about what you like about Massachusetts and I believe Minnesota.  Isn’t your Dad from Minnesota?

My real dad lives in Clinton, Massachusetts along with the rest of his side of the family. I haven’t been able to visit very often since cheer consumes most of my time. I love going there and just seeing my family though.
My step dad is from Lake Wilson, Minnesota. I’ve only been there twice in my life, and it is a small town that you could walk around in just a couple of hours. I love going to Minnesota because its so quiet in the summer and everything is absolutely beautiful.

What are your plans for the future? College? Cheer? Business aspirations?

My plan as of right now is to go to University of Texas- Austin and try out for the cheer team there. I haven’t received my acceptance letter yet but I am hoping to get good news soon. I plan to major in either Elementary Education or Secondary Education. I want to be a teacher so I can coach all-star cheerleading or high school cheerleading.

Through Cheer, you have friends from The Woodlands and Oak Ridge. Talk about how people from both towns are great. I hear kids all the time badmouth people from The Woodlands and vice-versa. Talk about why you think that may be unnecessary. Why are people from both places cool?

The majority of the Generals go to The Woodlands High School. There are only 3 girls on the team that attend Oak Ridge. I’ve cheered with these girls for almost 8 years now and they are like my sisters. Everyone thinks that there is a huge rivalry there and that we could never be able to work together on the same cheer team but it hasn’t ever been a problem for us. At football games, I can’t wait to go to the other side to see my General sisters. We’ve never been competitive over each other. No matter what side of the freeway we are from, we share the same talent and have the same passion for cheerleading. I know these girls will be lifelong friends to me.

There is so much substance involved with Cheer. As you can see, Cheer is a bonified sport. For those who look at Cheer like it’s just a bunch of girls cheering on the side of a football field, think again.

Serena Bufton-VonArb… just another awesome person in our Oak Ridge community.

Comments to Doug Sarant at doug@oakridgenow.com.

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Doug Sarant, Oak Ridge Now

Born and raised in New England, Doug promises he got to Texas as fast as he could. He earned the much needed "piece of paper" from Sam Houston State, proving to himself he could start and finish something. Doug's interests include coaching and playing any sport and still plays lacrosse competitively. He also enjoys going to dinner theaters, though he complains there just aren't enough of them in the area. Doug was brought up in a cultured environment, having suffered through dozens of symphonies and operas with his way too over-educated mother. At the end of the day, Doug is just a dad and husband and claims to be good at both.

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