Give me an N… C… Cheerleading Coach of the Year


Sissy Hayes, Features Writer

For some, cheerleading is just a sport. For Lori Harper, it is her life. Harper has been the varsity cheer coach at West Forsyth for the past seven years, building the program into what it is today. All of the hard work and dedication she has put into the program has led to her recognition as the NC Cheer Coach of the Year.
Harper has been cheering her whole life, even when she was a student at West. She loved her high school coach Pat Spainhour and mentions how much she impacted her.
“She was such a good role model, she taught us a lot and made us enjoy everything about cheer,” Harper said.
After high school, she went on to cheer at Appalachian State University, where she became the first and only member of the cheer team to be inducted into the ASU Athletics Hall of Fame.
Since Harper has always loved cheerleading, it felt right to come coach at West when she saw a job available.
“I enjoy the experiences that come with each year, and at the beginning of the year I can see the potential the new team has, and watching them grow makes me keep coming back,” Harper said.
At the beginning of her coaching career, Harper’s main focus was sideline cheer for football and basketball, but as the years passed she found a love for competitive cheer and considers this her favorite part of coaching.
“[When we first started competing] I was not heavily into competition but it’s funny that now I really do enjoy it,” Harper said.
Senior co-captain, Alexxis Gallagher has been cheering for 14 years with Harper as her coach for four of them. She admires the special bond Harper forms with all of her athletes and acknowledges that she will always be there for them. Gallagher mentions how Harper pushes all of her athletes to be the best they can be, while also being very straightforward with her coaching.
“She taught me a whole new kind of cheerleading and turned me into a brand new athlete. Improvement with Lori is an understatement,” Gallagher said.
Another four-year member of the cheer team and the other senior co-captain, Sarah Turner, admires Harper’s ‘tough-love’ coaching style and explains how this motivates her athletes to improve.
“When I made varsity I had never cheered before, so Lori has taught me everything I know, and looking back from freshman year to now, the growth is indescribable,” Turner said.
Starting off the 2022 competition season, Harper has led her team to back-to-back regional championships. Harper continues to lead the cheer team to reach many milestones, making her extra deserving of this award.