May 18, 2021

Cheering for the Dawgs: Sara Kate Wiggins

(Athens, GA) — One recently graduated Heard County High School student is experiencing the best the college football world has to offer during her time on the campus of the University of Georgia.

Sara Kate Wiggins, standout former Brave cheerleader and Class of 2018 Co-Valedictorian is a rising sophomore cheerleader for the Bulldogs. Sara is the first Heard County cheerleader to move on to the sidelines at a major Division I university and she says the journey has been a wonderful adventure.

“My overall cheerleading experience at UGA has been like no other,” says Sara. “Cheering in Sanford Stadium is surreal, and our team is one big family!”

She says balancing her cheer schedule and academics can be tough but is well worth the effort.

“Balance is hard — but it also helps because you have no choice but to manage your time. There are workouts, practices, appearances, games, etc, so you know when you have downtime, you have to study! Many people do not realize that appearances are a big part of our responsibility. It gives us an opportunity to serve the community and our university. It is a part I really enjoy!”

As a freshman cheerleader, Sara was able to cheer at all the Bulldog home football games but she was limited by the rules to cheering just one road game. Sara’s chance to cheer on the road in 2018 came at the ‘World’s Largest Cocktail Party’ where interestingly enough she cheered on the Dawgs versus her former classmate and UF quarterback Emory Jones.

Sara says that of course cheering in front of such a large crowd each week is quite different than cheering for her small town high school team under the Friday night lights.

“It is definitely a bit different! Saturdays in Athens are all day events. Our day begins with a small pep rally at the conference center where we then tailgate with family and friends,” Sara says. “From there, we head to Dawg Walk where we cheer while waiting on the players to arrive. Dawg Walk takes us into the stadium where we lay out shakers for our 90,000 fans and get ready for pregame. Then, we cheer four quarters. It is sometimes exhausting, but I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything!”

Sara Wiggins with UGA costumed mascot “Hairy Dawg” last season

Sara’s favorite moment of her freshman year came during the nation’s oldest rivalry.

“My No. 1 experience last year was cheering my first night game, UGA vs. Auburn. My favorite part was seeing the 4th quarter lights at night. It is definitely something everyone should see!” she exclaims.

Although many people consider certain negative stereotypes surrounding academics and character when they think of college cheerleaders, Sara Kate says those stereotypes just aren’t factual.

“I definitely disagree with the typical cheerleading stereotype. Our cheerleading team’s GPA is one of, if not the highest for all the athletic teams at UGA. We all understand that we are representing the university and believe it is our job to represent with good character and academics!”

The four time high school All-American cheerleader and member of the Stingray Allstars competition teams credits both programs for her success.

She says that aspiring young Heard County cheerleaders who wish to cheer on that big stage at the next level should really try to do both if possible.

“My advice to a young Heard County cheerleader would be to become a part of the cheer program and cheer on the Braves on Friday nights! I would also encourage them to become a part of a competitive all-star team to improve tumbling, stunting, and performance,” Sara says. “I believe college programs like to see their cheerleaders come from both a sideline team and competitive team.”

A couple of facts that people may not know is that UGA Cheerleaders are required to tryout for the team each year and they also split up and cheer for all of the other sports including basketball, volleyball, and gymnastics.

Sara Kate is double majoring in biology and psychology and plans to eventually enter some aspect of the medical field. Her parents Ken and Angela Wiggins are both Heard County educators and her brother Trey is a rising junior kicker for the University of West Georgia Wolves.

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