STAFF WRITER JENNIFER FIERRO
The recent round of college signings at Burnet High School was a cheerful affair — quite literally — as two cheerleaders and a track athlete put their names to National Letters of Intent.
Runner Briezie Luedecke is headed to Western Texas College in Snyder, while cheerleaders Fatima Rodriguez and Riley Page made the squads at Schreiner University in Kerrville and Stephen F. Austin University in Nacogdoches, respectively.
Page has wanted to attend SFA ever since his older brother, Cory Wing, competed as a golfer at the East Texas school. When Page discovered the cheer squad had male cheerleaders, he set out to earn a scholarship.
Private cheer coach Phil Sorrells, a former Texas Tech University cheerleader, worked with him on stunting — throwing and catching female cheerleaders — as well as dance sequences.
While cheerleading is a physical sport, it also requires mental toughness, the biggest area of improvement for Page.
“Everything (Sorrells) said clicked in my head,” he said.
The extra training, including tumbling work with sister-in-law Kinsey Wing, helped earn Page a spot on the SFA squad, which is ranked in the top 10 in Texas.
“It’s such a prestigious cheer squad,” he said.
Page signed his National Letter of Intent on May 17.
The son of Rebecca and John Page will major in history and minor in education.
His cheer compatriot Rodriguez was focused on earning a cross-country or track scholarship as a distance runner. However, when Schreiner cheer coach Alyson Stoepel contacted her about trying out for the squad, Rodriguez thought, “Why not?”
She learned the chants and the cheers and submitted a video. Five days later, she accepted a cheer scholarship. She made her commitment official May 6 during a signing ceremony.
Rodriguez began cheering in the eighth grade and has been on a squad ever since.
“I was a shy-type of girl,” she said. “People have helped me step out of my box. Four years in high school has helped me improve.”
The daughter of Claire Rodriguez and Silvano Rodriguez will major in education and minor in history.
“It’s been a fun experience,” she said. “College will be fun and more exciting.”
Western Texas College cross-country coach Stefan Campos is a big reason why Luedecke chose the Snyder school.
“The coach never left me alone,” she said. “He always checked in with me. He came to multiple races.”
But her decision came down to an important lesson in sports: never give up.
Luedecke has worn a medical boot during the past two cross-country seasons because of injuries. In 2017, a dropped piece of furniture shattered a foot. Last summer, she suffered a stress fracture on her heel, the result of running on concrete.
The injuries have changed the way she runs. Most people run heel to toe, but Luedecke runs toe to heel to avoid sharp pain.
“I did feel jinxed,” she said about the injuries.
But her coaches and family wouldn’t let her quit, and she signed her National Letter of Intent on May 8.
Her best time on the two-mile cross country course is 13 minutes. The time drops to 12:12 in the 3,200 meters and 5:10 in the 1,600 meters.
The daughter of Martelle Luedecke plans to major in business management in the hopes of starting a business that saves animals.