Central Valley senior Yazmin McNeely signed a national letter of intent to cheer at the University of Wyoming earlier this month.
McNeely celebrated her accomplishment with a host of supporters inside her high school’s gymnasium on May 4.
“The most enjoyable part was seeing my friends and family happy and us taking pictures and laughing,” she said. “I’ve wanted to cheer in college for a long time. But I didn’t know where. The level it’s at, it’s a dream come true.”
McNeely will become just the sixth Hawk student-athlete to compete in a sport at the NCAA Division-I level.
She also considered signing with Cal State East Bay, Cal State Bakersfield, Texas Southern University and Langston University.
“Wyoming was the first school that accepted me,” said McNeely, who has a cumulative grade-point average of 3.7 at Central Valley. “I wanted to go out of state. I get scholarships every semester for keeping my grades up.”
McNeely will join the Wyoming Spirit Program this fall.
She earned a spot on the 2021-22 team on April 17—the day before her 18th birthday.
“There were multiple rounds of tryouts,” she said. “The first one was video. They invited me to go to Wyoming for a live tryout. By the third day, I was pretty confident. I was getting good feedback. Everyone there was really good. I did what I knew I could do. I didn’t try to outshine anybody else.”
McNeely trained at the Cen Cal Spirit Elite Gym in Merced leading up to tryouts.
She competed at the D2 Summit Varsity All-Star Competition Event, May 11-16, at the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida.
“I went there to perfect my tumbling,” she said. “That’s when they asked me to join the team.”
McNeely will cheer at football, basketball, wrestling and volleyball contests.
Dawaian McNeely, Yazmin’s older brother, plays football at Wyoming.
He rushed for 55 yards on 14 carries and registered three tackles while appearing in five games during the 2020-21 season.
He redshirted during his first year of college.
“I’m super excited,” Yazmin said. “It’s going to be really cool because our parents won’t have to travel to two different places to watch us. The last time I cheered for him was in Pop Warner with the Ceres Seahawks. It’s been a long time.”
“We’re pretty close,” she added. “We’re only two years apart.”
McNeely started cheering 10 years ago.
She’s been a member of Central Valley’s program since the ninth grade.
“I’m a back spot,” she said. “I help lift the stunt and catch the flyer. The energy you get is a lot of fun. Cheering is a hard sport to do. It’s a lot more dangerous than people would think.”
McNeely and her Hawk teammates practice up to two hours a day.
“And that’s if we don’t come to practice early or leave late,” she said. “My schedule is really busy. I have work, cheer and school.”
McNeely will move to Wyoming in July.
She’ll attend her first official practice in August.
McNeely plans to major in journalism and minor in creative writing.
“I’m looking forward to the college experience—meeting new people and making friends,” she said. “I didn’t have a regular senior year of high school because of COVID.”