A dream is often a wish that the heart makes.
Ever since Cailin Caldwell can remeber, her dream in the small town of Claremore has been to attend a NCAA Division I school.
Whether it was through a cheerleading or soccer scholarship, the 2013 Claremore High School graduate was willing to do whatever it took to pursue her dream.
Caldwell, who closed out her illustrious high school career as a dual All-State performer in soccer and cheerleading, will represent Claremore as a freshman member of the Oklahoma Sooners cheerleading team.
“It’s a dream come true,” Caldwell said with a smile.
Through hard work, staying patient and trusting God’s timing, Caldwell’s journey from the seats inside the Gaylord Family Oklahoma Memorial Stadium to the sidelines will take centerstage in 31 days — Aug. 31 when OU plays Louisiana-Monroe.
“It’s hard to believe that in 31 days I’ll be cheering in front of 80,000 people,” Caldwell said.
Asked if she would be nervous on the experience of a lifetime, Caldwell graciously responded with a heart-warming smile and said, “it’s an honor just to be a part of something so special.”
Caldwell’s love for the Sooners is only proof that she’s her ‘Daddy’s Girl’.
Her father, Brian Caldwell, only knows two colors during college football season ... ‘Crimson and Cream’.
And, for many years, those are the only colors that Caldwell has embraced in her wardrobe.
Though her friends — who happen to be partial to Oklahoma State — often kid her and even persuade her to don the black and orange, Caldwell held her ground and wore ‘crimson’ with pride.
“I’m Sooner born and Sooner bred,” Caldwell said.
“Wouldn’t have it any other way.”
One of 27 members — 18 of which are brand new — to the All-Girl OU Cheer Squad, Caldwell will at least know a familiar face in co-captain Taylor DeLozier, a former Claremore Sequoyah All-State cheerleader.
Caldwell said her OU teammates have grown so close in just a short period of time.
“I feel like I’ve known them forever,” Caldwell added.
“It will be really neat to share this experience with Taylor, and have someone close to home on the squad.”
Caldwell’s path to becoming an OU cheerleader took five auditions before the actual tryout.
Through it all, though, Caldwell kept persevering toward the ultimate prize while leaning on the moral support of her parents.
“My parents are my biggest supporters,” Caldwell said.
“They never missed a cheerleading event or a soccer game and they’re always there to encourage me.”
* * *
Cheering since she was 6-years-old, Caldwell envisioned herself one day relishing this ‘golden opportunity’.
Caldwell grew up in Claremore, played with Barbie dolls, went to high school football games and looked up to the Zebra cheerleaders.
She had her mind set at an early age that cheerleading or soccer would be her ticket to college.
Though she loves scoring goals and being aggressive on the soccer field, her athleticism and outgoing personality enabled her to reach higher with her dreams.
Caldwell developed a love for spirited cheers such as ‘Two bits, Four Bits, Six Bits a dollar, all for the Zebras stand up and holler...” and “Who are you rooting for ... C-H-S!”
The coaching she received at Claremore High School in cheer from Ashley Long, Debbie Griggs and Kelli Steidley helped make this moment in Caldwell’s life more than a ‘pipe-dream’.
And, then to win a State Championship as a senior last October, as well as earning All-State recognition, Caldwell’s capped off her Zebra career in style.
“Every moment of my senior year — from winning state to being crowded Homecoming Queen and then helping lead the soccer team to the Final Four — are ‘priceless’ memories that I’ll treasure for the rest of my life,” Caldwell said.
* * *
And, while she gets a little ‘teary-eyed’ reflecting back on her stroll down memory lane, Caldwell beams with excitement knowing that her ‘best days’ are still ahead of her in Norman.
A new chapter awaits the daughter of Brian and Tatum Caldwell ... one that hopefully includes the opportunity of cheering on the Sooners in the 2014 BCS Championship Game.
All eyes in Norman every Saturday will be on the sidelines watching Claremore’s Caldwell, who reflects the drive, determination and desire to go the distance in order to make dreams come true.
“I always want to set a good, positive example and be that person (cheerleader) that every girl looks up too,” Caldwell said.
Sooner born and sooner proud, Caldwell followed her heart and received more than she could ever wish for in this ‘small-town’ dream.
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