At an age when most toddlers are still gaining confidence on two feet, Delani Morgans started tumbling and twisting at Capitol City Cheer. Brianna Shramek started with the organization at the age of 5.
They're among several young women from around Mid-Missouri who started learning cheerleading young at the local business and hope to continue their talents in college.
On Sunday, they had a chance - for some, a last chance - to strut their stuff for a hometown crowd. They were among 140
participants in Capitol City Cheer's second annual showcase, held at Capital Mall.
"There are some who are my age who started the same day I did and haven't left since," Shramek said. "I love cheering. I'm even going to be cheering in college, because I don't want to go without it."
The high school senior has been accepted to the University of Missouri and will try out for the cheerleading squad in May. She was a cheerleader two years at North Callaway High School in Kingdom City, but "it was nothing like this," she said. "Nothing really compares to what I do here."
In high school cheerleading, she said, there's more cheering and chanting. At Capitol City Cheer, it's all about choreographed, fast-paced physical movements, including tumbling, stunts and dance.
Cheerleading has helped Shramek overcome her shyness, she said, even when she's performing for hundreds, if not thousands, of spectators, as the cheerleaders did on Sunday.
"You can't really be shy in this sport at all," she said. "It really helps you to open up and not be so shy in front of all these people. Now (performing) doesn't phase us anymore. We just go out there and forget everything."
Morgans started at Capitol City Cheer when she was 2. Now, the Lebanon High School senior plans to go to Missouri Southern State University and try out for the cheerleading team there. "I'm kinda nervous, but Angi's prepared me a lot for it," she said.
She was referring to Angi Dunham, co-owner of Capitol City Cheer. Dunham said that's her goal with Capitol City Cheer: give girls the talents they need to pursue cheering in college, if they choose to.
Many people attending on Sunday traveled from area towns. The senior floor team alone had girls from some 15 Central Missouri high schools, she said.
"It's just a good way for our girls to perform for a hometown crowd," Dunham said of Sunday's event, adding that each of the participants were presented with a certificate after performing.