BY ALEX PACE
After 30 years teaching and 28 years coaching, Jerrie Hulsey will be retiring from Winder-Barrow High School at the end of the year.
Hulsey attended the University of Georgia where she was a member of the dance team. At UGA, Hulsey met her husband of 35 years, Jeff Hulsey, who serves as the emcee and voice of the Winder-Barrow Bulldoggs.
Hulsey received her degree in 1980 and was hired by WBHS in 1983 as a business education teacher. She began her career teaching on manual typewriters and changed her curriculum as technology has progressed.
Because Hulsey had danced in high school and college, she had hoped to become involved with the Winder-Barrow dance team.
“When I got to Winder-Barrow, I had hoped to do flag line for the band, but the job wasn’t available. Then I was asked if I wanted to do cheerleading,” said Hulsey. “I didn’t really know anything about cheerleading when I first started coaching.”
Hulsey organized the competitive cheerleading team in 1993. It was the only year the team would be all-girl.
“My favorite part of the routine is stunting,” said Hulsey. “That’s what drove me to have a coed team. Being coed brought a new level of athleticism to the team that really improved our stunting abilities.”
In February 1997, four years after the creation of the team, the Winder-Barrow competitive cheerleading team won a state championship with a 50-point lead.
“It was just crazy. We weren’t even on mats back then, it was just the full basketball court,” said Hulsey. “I think we blew the judges away.”
The team won state again in 1998, 2004, 2005 and 2011. The team has won six region championships.
Hulsey described the ritual the team performs to get prepared before each competition.
“We have a ritual saying we do to pump ourselves up,” said Hulsey. “It is a cadence and then we end by barking like dogs.”
Hulsey’s daughter, Danielle, was on the competitive cheerleading squad for the 2004 and 2005 state championships.
“I wouldn’t give anything for the experience of coaching her and winning together,” said Hulsey.
Hulsey will be retiring at the end of the school year. If she does not continue to coach the team during retirement, she will still be back to watch competitions.
“I’m excited and apprehensive about retiring,” said Hulsey. “I plan to go to our lake house for most of the summer. I am excited about not having a schedule to meet and not having to work 12 and 13-hour days.”
Hulsey says that even though her job was to teach and coach cheerleading, it wound up teaching her countless lessons.
“The first thing it taught me is that every kid is different. You have to coach kids differently and that’s how you get the best out of a team,” said Hulsey. “Secondly, my philosophy is that the journey doesn’t end how you always want to. If it always ended the way I wanted it to end, we’d have 22 state championships. I just try to do things the team will always remember for the rest of their lives.”
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