From hoops to cheerleader, McHargue named All-American

Published 10:45 am Tuesday, March 17, 2020

From an all-region point guard to an All-American cheerleader, Phebe McHargue has made a unique transtion in her first year of college at the University of the Cumberlands.

After helping lead Harlan County to the 13th Region Tournament finals in each of her four years of high school, including a trip to the Sweet Sixteen in 2018, McHargue has found similar success with the Cumberlands cheerleading squad.

The University of the Cumberlands cheerleading team recorded a season-high 83.97 points to finish runner-up at the Mid-South Conference Championship recently in Bowling Green High School. UC capture one stunt group title, while four Patriots earned MSC all-conference honors, including McHargue, who was selected as a NAIA All-American in early March.

“Phebe is a phenomonal athlete,” said Cumberlands coach R.J. Conroy. “She picks up new skills very quickly and takes instructions/ corrections extremely well. She has progressed leaps and bounds to become one of the best cheerleaders in our program.”

While she spent most of her time the last few years with basketball. McHargue grew up around cheerleading when her mom, HCHS teacher Tami Brock, coached cheerleading at Cumberland High School from 1993 to when the school closed in 2008.

“Sometimes people think it is funny that Phebe made the transition from basketball to cheer, but she learned a back handspring (a pretty basic tumble skill) at 3 1/2 years old,” Brock said. “As an infant, she was in the stands at Cumberland High School, going to practices and competitions in a little baby harness. She was around cheerleading (and cheered at Rosspoint in elementary school) until she decided to focus on basketball in the seventh grade”

“The transition has actually been pretty easy, I had good friends in high school who cheered at HC and I kept up with my tumbling the whole time. I also watched as my sister danced in college at UK,” McHargue said.

McHargue’s sister, Bailey, danced at the University of Kentucky from 2014 to 2016. She was a member of the 2016 nationals team. She also danced at HCHS for four years. She’s now a student at the University of Louisville Law School.

Lacking the height of most college basketball players, McHargue started to consider cheerleading after her basketball season ended last year.

“I had an opportunity to send a video to the cheer coach. I didn’t think I had much to lose,” McHargue said. “She took a look at it and wanted to meet with me in person. My mom and I drove down there one evening and sat in on a practice. A few weeks after that visit, the coach contacted me with a scholarship offer.”

McHargue has found several similarities between basketball and cheerleading.

“The idea of teammates and competition is the same — we want to win in cheer, just like in ball,” she said. “I think with cheer, there is a little more trust involved, though. I have my team, but I also have my stunt group. There are three other cheerleaders who are responsible for getting me up in the tricks, catching me and throwing me. I pretty much have to trust them 100 percent, otherwise the skill is shaky or doesn’t go up at all. In ball, if a play didn’t work there was usually time to run it again, or even try something a little different. In cheer competitions, it is one performance and there are no opportunities to score another basket.”