Former Midland player cheering at Olympics
HUNTINGTON -- A former Cabell Midland football player is part of an elite cheerleading squad that has made several appearances at the 2012 Olympics, and will cheer at the men's basketball semi-finals Friday and during the finals Sunday.
Ronnie Patrick II, a graduate assistant and member of the coed cheer squad at Morehead State University, is one of 16 individuals who made the cut out of hundreds to represent Varsity, which trains about 350,000 cheerleaders a year, at the Summer Games in London.
The squad isn't just there to get the crowds into the games, though. They are also making a push to have cheerleading recognized as an official Olympic sport.
Back home, grandfather Ron Patrick and the rest of the family have been recording hours of Olympic programming and sifting through them to try and catch glimpses of Ronnie.
"The squad was doing handball (Wednesday), but we haven't been able to find it," Ron Patrick said. "I talked to Ronnie just a while ago, and their schedule is just so hectic, they don't know where they're going to be when.
"We are so excited. His mother is just hysterical."
Ronnie's mother, Rhonda Patrick, is an assistant cheerleading coach at Cabell Midland. His younger sister also cheers for the Knights.
But cheering was not Ronnie's first chosen path.
After all, Ronnie was a first-team MSAC and second-team Class AAA All-State selection at linebacker for Cabell Midland after his senior season in 2006.
"He and some of the other guys had started talking to these girls who were cheering with the River Cities All Stars, and they started cheering with them during the off-season," Ron Patrick said. "That's how he got into it, but we thought for sure he'd get a Division I-A football scholarship."
Unfortunately for Ronnie, the phone wasn't ringing.
"When Marshall didn't talk to him, a girl he knew was going down to the University of Tennessee to tryout for the cheer squad, so he went with her. They asked him to tryout, too, and he ended up getting a four-year scholarship at UT as a cheerleader."
Ronnie got his bachelor's degree in clinical psychology, and went on to Morehead State, where he is working on his master's.
In that time, he's also done work for Varsity and other cheer clinics, and traveled across the globe.
"Last year he was in Norway running a camp," Ron Patrick said. "Cheerleading has opened a lot of doors for him. It's really neat. And to be chosen as one of 16 to go to the Olympics, that's a real honor."
Ronnie is expected to be back in the U.S. sometime in late August.