Naturally Her

Senior Evie Hussani finds her place in cheerleading


Sofia Ball

While some were out partying, others at the movies and most curled up in a queen-size comforter, senior Evie Hussaini spent her Friday night cleaning out her closet.

As she sorted through old sweatpants and winter jackets, something caught her eye.

Just like that, she was 12 years old again, out on the mat in her sister’s two sizes too large old athletic shorts, and a neon t-shirt. “Little Sally Walker” echoed throughout the church gymnasium.

I don’t know anything. Let me just try my best. If I go in the back, they won’t notice if I do something wrong. She thought to herself, eyeing the brick walls anxiously.

Hussaini had wanted to cheer since stepping foot on the Olathe North bleachers, eyeing the older girls form pyramids on beat, their flashy skirts like raindrops beneath the fluorescent lighting. 

Since then, she’s dreamed of grasping the shiny plastic pom-poms.

Hussaini is naturally loud.

Naturally bold.

Naturally peppy.

Naturally her.

But cheer had never come naturally.

“I was so worried about doing something wrong and them thinking I didn’t have what it takes,” Hussaini said. “My jumps (were) like two inches off the ground. I was not very flexible. (And with) learning routines you could drill that stuff into me 24 hours a day and I would not know what I was doing.”

However six years later Hussaini gets ready each morning, smiling at four All-American cheer ribbons neatly taped to her vanity mirror, crowded by post its of encouragement from her teammates.

But beneath that eyeliner, that combed back hair, that black and orange SMNW halter top and that preppy facade, there would always be a hidden part of her.

“I think I had the mentality down that I was a cheerleader in my head,” Hussaini said. “But physically no. I was always a bigger kid. Originally when I joined with one of my best friends she had always been a lot smaller than me. And she looked a lot different in the uniforms than I did. Whenever we’d take pictures together our parents would be like ‘Oh my god, you should hold her up because she’s so small and you’re like the bigger friend’. It just made me feel less than she was because I was the supporting friend and she was more what a cheerleader should be.”

But over time, throughout the late nights, the routine rehearsals, the games and the water breaks Hussaini started to gain confidence.

“Everyone has their own insecurities,” Hussaini said. “So at the end of the day you just have to be confident and if you can’t be confident, fake it till you make it, because once you get over the fear of  ‘Am I gonna fit in?’  or  ‘Are they gonna like me?’, it’ll come to you naturally and you’ll find (your place).”