BLOOMINGTON — As a New Palestine High School gymnast, Kate Fee made quite a name for herself.
She was a four-year competitor, earning gold on the beam in her prep career and qualifying for the state meet as an individual and with her team, leading to a sixth-place finish for the Dragons her senior year.
Now, as a freshman at Indiana University, Fee recently earned an accolade that surprised even her — a national championship.
The 2015 New Palestine graduate, who was named an All-State cheerleader, is making quite an impact with the Indiana University cheerleading team, which recently captured the national championship at the UCA National Championship competition at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex in Orlando.
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With the title, the Hoosiers have won top honors four of the last five years.
“It’s different, and I never expected it,” Fee said of the Hoosiers’ national title. “Our coach emphasized being humble, relying on our skills and not to worry about the other teams. Doing our job was our focus.”
And while that is exactly what the Hoosiers did, Fee trusted her roots as a gymnast at Gymnastics Unlimited and New Palestine to help get her through.
“Gymnastics has helped me a lot. It taught me discipline, the importance of working hard, respect, and it built me,” said Fee, who is majoring in Health Fitness and minoring in Business. “Gymnastics has also helped me with cheerleading. I’m used to performing in front of large crowds, and being a gymnast helps with my nerves when we cheer.”
After all, Fee cheers in front of thousands at Memorial Stadium during the fall and inside Assembly Hall during the winter months on the campus in Bloomington.
While other student-athletes might have a grueling practice day after day, Fee said the cheer squad trains three times a week for three hours each.
“We have set times and days. I set my schedule around cheerleading, and I study with my teammates. We try to help each other out,” she said.
And, even with a national championship, Fee said the discussion over whether cheerleading is a sport will always remain.
“There’s a lot of controversy surrounding that,” she explained. “I definitely believe we are athletes, but we are not a sport. Like our coach says, we cheer several times, but we compete only once.”
As a freshman on a big campus, Fee admits she is using her sport to network and to get to know others.
“You meet a lot of people, and the team and the sport definitely help me make connections with others,” Fee said.
Despite reaching the pinnacle in her first year, Fee remains grounded and has not forgotten where she comes from. She even has some advice for cheerleaders in Hancock County.
“If you have a dream, work hard and chase it. You can do anything if you work hard enough and want it,” Fee said.