Last week was a big one in the life of Kinsey Swicord.
On Friday, the now-John Milledge Academy graduate walked across the stage to receive her high school diploma. Just a few days prior, she sat surrounded by her family on that same stage and signed her letter of intent to continue her competition cheerleading career at the University of West Georgia.
The daughter of Milledgeville’s Police Chief (Dray) and Lake Country Gymnastics owner (Missy), Swicord has reached the pinnacle of cheering at the high school level and is now looking forward to a more daunting challenge. She’ll get it when she joins a West Georgia program that has won an astounding 24 national championships since 2001 between its all-female and co-ed squads, including this year’s sweep of both divisions in January.
For Swicord, last Tuesday’s signing was the realization of a dream she’s had since joining John Milledge’s varsity competition cheer program as a freshman.
“I’ve always wanted to go to West Georgia,” Swicord said. “They’ve won national championships for almost the last 20 years, so I want to be a part of continuing that tradition. It means the world to me to be able to cheer at a different level. I can’t wait to go and support my team.”
Swicord has been a major in JMA cheer since coming onto the scene as a freshman, though that has not always been the path she wanted to take, according to coach Doug Stephens. During Tuesday’s signing, he recalled meeting Swicord when he first became an instructor at Lake Country Gymnastics. When he asked her if she wanted to join the gym’s cheer team her response was that she was going to follow in her mother’s footsteps and become a gymnast. And what large footsteps those would be. Missy Swicord is a member of Georgia College’s Hall of Fame, thanks to her many accolades as a gymnast, including status as a four-time All-American.
Swicord eventually forged her own path, though, while still putting those gymnastic skills to good use. She finished up her John Milledge cheer career as a two-time state champion, a two-time state runner-up, and an All-State honoree in both years the GISA has selected an All-State team.
“I’ve known her since she was little, so it’s almost like she’s my own kid in a sense,” Stephens told The Union-Recorder after watching Swicord sign. “I’m extremely grateful and extremely humbled that her talent gets to be shown at the next level. As a coach, there’s nothing more gratifying and fulfilling than to see somebody achieve their goals.”
During the signing ceremony, Stephens told those in attendance what made Swicord such an asset to his team.
“She oozes athleticism,” he said. “From a physical standpoint, if a coach could draw the perfect specimen for a cheerleader, I'll tell you that nine times out of 10 that drawing would very closely resemble Kinsey.”
He said after the signing ceremony that UWG is getting “the total package” in the two-time All-State cheerleader, saying that both her tumbling and stunting abilities make her stand out.
Swicord put all that athleticism and talent to good use in other arenas this spring. She wowed both home and away fanbases at girls soccer games with multiple flip throw-ins per game. The UWG signee even earned one more state championships just a couple weeks prior to graduating having won an individual title in the girls 100-meter hurdles.
Although Swicord’s athletic career path diverged from her mother’s when she chose cheerleading, she told The Union-Recorder she does want to bring things full circle as she plans to major in business and eventually run her mother’s gym.