Woodside High School graduate Samantha McLeod has already accomplished quite a bit during her young life.
The Menlo College freshman has served as a student trustee to the Sequoia Union High School District, was the first runner-up in the Miss Redwood City pageant, and has served as Miss People's Choice of the city.
These days, in addition to her academics, she’s helping Menlo College develop one of the top competitive cheer teams in the nation.
The cheer team, which also features Palo Alto resident Andrea Eng; Millbrae resident Haley Machevich; and head coach, Atherton resident Kezia Molinsky; has begun to build an impressive legacy and continues to earn accolades as they progress.
McLeod’s latest honor is as a camp counselor at the upcoming United Spirit Association (USA) Summer Camps in California. She becomes the first Menlo member to receive the honor.
She said she looks forward building off of what she has learned over a lifetime of dance and cheer experience, and transfer those skills to young and aspiring middle school and high school students.
USA runs camps throughout the summer in three different states including California, Utah, and Arizona. The purpose is to promote unity and spirit and build goals for the kids to take with them to their schools and cheer programs.
McLeod, who attended the camps, looks forward to giving back to a program that taught her so much. The opportunity to do this was one that McLeod was fortunate to receive. With the majority of the staff filled by returning counselors, McLeod was one of roughly 200 applicants looking to fill just two or three open positions.
"I did USA in high school and was on the dance and cheer team every year," McLeod said. "I always wanted to be an instructor and I had a friend who was an instructor who e-mailed me and said I should do it. I went in and auditioned and got it!"
McLeod was quick to note that her time at Menlo was a major factor in being selected for this role. Having spent time on a successful, professional-style team, under the tutelage of Molinsky, McLeod was able to transfer those skills in to the audition process and nab one of the spots for the upcoming summer.
"With Kezia everything was so wonderful,” McLeod said. “It's a more professional experience. Having the Menlo experience and coming from a professional-style cheer team here; it was a good transition.”
USA runs a number of camps over the course of the year. Typically, 20 schools will bring students and they are split amongst four to five instructors. McLeod noted she will likely be involved in four to five camps per summer, but the benefits do not necessarily end with the summer.
"I get four or five camps per summer and it doesn't necessarily stop at the camp," she said. "I can work competitions throughout the year and other events that they host. I'm more than welcome to be a part of that."
This experience is the natural progression of things for McLeod, who hopes to teach cheer and dance upon graduation.
The experience and opportunities created while a counselor will help her to realize these goals and continue to grow in her remaining season on Menlo's competitive cheer squad. Molinsky is happy to see McCleod's hard work pay off and is proud of her accomplishments.
"It is an honor to be chosen to be a staff member for USA Cheer and Dance,” Molinsky said. “I am so proud of Sam's accomplishment. She is such a hard worker who has an incredible passion for dance. She will inspire her students this summer with her positive attitude and incredible technique.”
-- Menlo Athletics
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