Last updated: August 24. 2013 6:07PM - 173 Views

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OTTAWA Kelsey Maag is full of cheer, especially as a member of the competition cheer team for Ottawa-Glandorf High School. Last spring, as a junior, she helped the squad win first in state cheerleading competition.

We were so excited. The previous two years, we got runner-up, so we finally won state champs. It felt really good, she said.

Despite the state title, Maag, a senior at Ottawa-Glandorf, said she wishes cheerleading received more recognition.

It isnt really considered a sport. I dont know why. I see it as a sport, she said. We practice just as much as the other teams. Its hard work, and you have to have really good endurance. Youre constantly moving, and you have to be precise, and its fast, and youre cheering. To me, it feels like sprinting.

Maag said the competition team at Ottawa-Glandorf puts in hours of practice every week.

Its an all-year thing. We start in the summer when we go to Columbus to learn our dance, and we make up the cheer on our own. Then we practice during the week, and we go to tumbling every Saturday in Delphos. We put a lot into it, she said.

Maag also is a member of the varsity cheerleading teams for the Titans in football and basketball.

We do a lot for the guys, like, we just put up about 200 signs, and we decorated their lockers, she said.

In addition to cheerleading, Maag has studied ballet, lyrical, tap, and jazz for the past 15 years. She said that dance helps relieve everyday stress.

It feels really good to dance. You can forget about everything else thats going on in your life and just dance and not worry about anything, she said.

With the dancers at Center Stage Dance Academy in Ottawa, Maag has competed throughout the region and at the national level.

It can be nerve-racking competing against the best, but I try not to let the pressure get to me. I focus on the dance, she said, but its nice because you get really close with the other girls and bond with everyone. I enjoy it.

At Center Stage, Maag also assists in teaching dance. Last year, she taught four classes.

I was glad to teach them what Ive learned and pass that on to them. I try to be a role model, she said. I remember looking up to the older girls when I was younger.

At Ottawa-Glandorf, along with cheerleading, Maag serves as vice president of the National Honor Society and is a member of the Key Club, Junior Optimists, and Spanish Club.

Maag said she plans on a career in the medical field.

Im looking forward to something in medicine. I dont know what, but I like to help people, she said.

This summer, Maag job-shadowed a nurse anesthetist at the Cleveland Clinic.

I got to watch a couple of surgeries. I was scared at first, but it was really neat to see something like that. Not very many people get that kind of opportunity, so it was exciting, she said.

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