Baker to highlight Spirit Day in Preseason opener
By Mike Courson
Tens of thousands of Kansas City Chiefs fans are gearing up for Thursday’s NFL Preseason opener against the Houston Texans Thursday evening. Few will be as excited as Hutchinson High School junior Quincey Baker, who will highlight Spirit Day at Arrowhead Stadium with a brief solo tumbling routine during the halftime show. (watch him practice by clicking here)
Baker competes with Cheer & Tumbling All Stars (CTA) out of Hutchinson. CTA cheerleaders and all high school and competitive cheerleaders, grades 6-12, around the region were offered the opportunity to attend Spirit Day in Kansas City. Interested parties were given materials to practice before heading to Kansas City on Aug 4.
During Saturday’s four-and-a-half hour clinic inside the University of Kansas Health Systems Training Complex – indoor home of the Chiefs – attendees fine tuned their performance routine with the help of Chiefs cheerleaders. That’s where the cheerleaders noticed Baker, who went on to win the Extra Mile Award at the clinic.
“During one of our breaks I was messing around and tumbling around on the turf field,” Baker said. “One of the Chiefs cheerleaders pulled me aside and asked I’d be willing to tumble at the beginning of the halftime show.”
One hundred and two cheerleaders will perform during Thursday’s Spirit Day halftime show. Baker was the only one asked to perform a solo tumbling routine. “I was surprised at first that it’s just going to be me,” said the 16 year old. “I’m real excited to be able to show off my skills for such a large crowd.”
Competitive cheer is a relatively new thing for Baker. Many competitive cheerleaders begin learning routines in May. Baker joined CTA in October 2016, making for a short training season that first season.
“A friend of mine was in my weights class,” Baker said. “At the end of it, I asked here he learned to do that. He invited me to an open gym in the gym at the gym I’m currently at now. I could only do a cartwheel but I had about a year of dance experience in advance.
“It was just something that clicked with me. I have some really good coaches that work with me really well, and I’m in the gym a lot just working hard. It’s just something I love to do. Some things are still difficult but most of it has come pretty easy for me. It’s really fun to do so I enjoy doing it.”
Baker was on his middle school dance team but learned male cheerleaders were not allowed on the team in high school. The duo talked with the athletic director and now males are back on the team. Baker is entering his second season as a cheerleader for Hutchinson High, and he’ll be entering his third competitive cheer season.
Being asked to perform a solo tumbling routine at Arrowhead is hardly Baker’s first accolade in the sport. In a recent National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) camp in Emporia, Baker climbed the ladder to earn Top All-American status.
One of more than 500 cheerleaders competing that day, he was one of approximately 190 cheerleaders to be nominated by staff as an NCA All-American. Fewer than 80 of those 190 cheerleaders earned All-American status, and Baker was the only cheerleader in his division to earn Top All-American status.
As an NCA cheerleader, Baker has already had opportunities to compete in Kansas City, Oklahoma City, Tulsa, and Dallas. Future opportunities include the opportunity to take part in the London New Year’s Parade.
Just last month, the Hutchinson High cheerleaders were part of the Kansas Shrine Bowl at Pittsburg State University. Competing with 199 other cheerleaders over four days, Baker was one of just 37 on the squad named to the Select Elite team. He was the only male named to the Select Elite team.
Not that it all comes easy. Baker trains six days a week at CTA and every other Saturday. He attends three more practices a week at HHS and co-coaches two teams as a student athlete at CTA, all the while maintaining a 4.0 grade point average. He’s developed a love of all aspects of competitive cheering.
“I love all of it,” he said. “At first I was in it just to do tumbling. Now I like stunting. I already liked dancing. It’s just a bunch of things I enjoy doing all meshed into one thing.”
All the work is paying off. Just two years in, Baker will perform in front of some 74,000 Chiefs fans on Thursday. He will complete two tumbling passes that include roundoffs, back-handsprings, a bound-up half turn, a whip, a chasse, and an aerial.
“Facing the front of the field, all my formations are on the right side of the field,” he said. “They just had me start on the left side of the field and I tumble across, then I continue the dance we’ve pre-learned and fall into the formations that were given to me beforehand.”
The bad news? Mom will be unable to attend. “I had no idea they were going to showcase him like that,” said Quincey’s mother, Dawn. “It’s bad because it’s the first thing I haven’t been to of his. I don’t get to all the games because I run the Spirit Wear booth so I don’t get to watch him cheer at games and I don’t always get to the pep assemblies. But as far as competitive stuff, I go to everything. This will by my first time not being there.”
Thursday’s kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. in Kansas City. The game will be televised on KWCH/CBS.