Akers state cheer coach of the year

Paul Adkins Sports Editor

September 24, 2013

Logan High School has long been known for its strong cheerleading teams in addition to its other athletic programs.

Michelle Akers has taken the squad to new heights.

Akers, Logan’s 11th-year cheer coach, was honored at last Friday night’s Logan football game as it was announced she had been chosen as the WVSSAC state cheer coach of the year.

During her 11 years as head coach, Akers has led Logan to its first-ever state cheerleading championship in 2009, two Class AAA state runner-up finishes in 2011 and 2012, six overall state appearances and two third-place finishes in 2007 and 2008. In addition, LHS has won four regional championships and had two regional runner-up finishes under Akers.

This is the second time Akers has been named as the state coach of the year. She also took the West Virginia Coaches Association’s Coach of the Year honor in 2009 after the LHS cheerleaders had brought home the state championship.

Akers said she was surprised by the latest honor.

“I was very surprised when I found out but it’s a great honor,” Akers said.

Akers joined the LHS cheerleading coaching staff in 1999 as the freshmen cheer coach. She then spent two more years as the JV coach before being promoted to varsity coach in 2002.

Akers, also a member of the WVSSAC’s Cheer Committee, has helped nearly a dozen athletes continue the sport at the collegiate level at schools such as Marshall, WVU, Fairmont State and Lee University.

Under the leadership of Akers, Logan’s cheerleading squads have been recognized as one of the top programs in the state. Year in and year out Logan’s cheerleaders perform a high-energy, high-flying routine and also help cheer on and entertain the fans at the LHS football and basketball games.

Akers said cheerleading at Logan and southern West Virginia in general is very strong. Logan’s neighbor to the west, Tug Valley, has won two straight cheer titles.

“Cheerleading in southern West Virginia is the premier female sport,” Akers said. “I think southern West Virginia recognizes that it is a sport because they see how much hard work they put into it. The community backs the sport of cheerleading here very well.”

The Logan area is also strong in cheerleading at the youth level with the Cheeriffic All-Stars and Southern Elite and also with the Logan Middle School cheer program. Cheeriffic has won two overall national championships in each of the last two years and also last year brought home two Super National titles and a UCA International Championship after competing in Orlando, Fla.

Akers said she is blessed to have such well-groomed and talented young athletes when they make their way up to the LHS program in the ninth grade.

“Our feeder programs in Logan are wonderful,” Akers said.

Akers and the Logan cheerleaders have a goal of not only returning to the Class AAA state tournament in December at the Charleston Civic Center but also winning it. LHS came very close last year as Brooke High School topped Logan by less than three points. Only one senior was lost from last year’s squad due to graduation.

“We are a month ahead right now than where we normally are,” Akers said. “We’re getting ready for regionals and state. If we keep working and progressing the way that we are I don’t think anyone is going to stop us from the state championship.”

Logan is set to compete in the Class AAA regionals on Nov. 9. The state competition is scheduled for Dec. 14 at the Civic Center.

“I think that we’ve got a good shot with the girls that we’ve got,” Akers said. “I think for years to come Logan is going to be good in cheerleading and will be the strongest in the state. We were very close last year. I just want to thank the community of Logan for supporting our cheer program. Without their support our program wouldn’t be where it is today.”