Nothing in life is so strong as love: love for family, friends and to do the thing that one loves in life. Well, it’s taken a special young lady to not only do what she loves but she is showing a school how to show love and receive love in return.
Mountain View’s Gabby Clements is not your normal 12-year-old seventh-grader. Gabby grew up always wanting to be a cheerleader. She had spent years watching her older sisters, Victoria, 20, and Vanessa, 18, cheering in middle and high school.
Gabby has shown that it’s not in the way that she moves because she doesn’t, it’s not the way she jumps because she doesn’t, and it’s not the way she catches other girls from tumbling because she doesn’t do any of those things.
When Gabby cheers and puts on a show, she is doing it with everything she has and all of her heart. She doesn’t have the normal functions that most cheerleaders have. Gabby has had to overcome some adversity in life just to be able to smile for the fans at sporting events.
See, Gabby is wheelchair-bound and was born with a rare genetic disorder called Pfeiffer syndrome. Pfeiffer syndrome is a rare genetic disorder characterized by the premature fusion of certain bones of the skull (craniosynostosis) which affects the shape of the head and face, according to the National Library of Medicine.
Gabby has had several surgeries and what it does is affects bone growth. She used to walk until she was 5 years old, but since she had hip surgery, she hasn’t been able to walk. Gabby just had a brain cranial surgery at the end of school last year. Her dedication to the team led her to come to practice with bruises from the surgery.
For the most part, the wheelchair is not the thing that people notice about Gabby after they get past the introductions and talk to her. People notice Gabby for her infectious smile, spirit and personality. When Gabby cheers, she is cheering from her heart and with her voice. Mountain View’s cheer team has become a favorite among fans, with Gabby being the showstopper.
Gabby has positively infected and affected the people around her. Her sister, Victoria, is studying to become a therapist, because of her. Her teammates have a love and bond for her that is sisterly. They make sure to turn her when she cheers, to wipe her forehead if they need to, to push her glasses back onto her face for her when they slide down and often the girls will hold her water bottle and give her a drink.
“I’m really proud of these girls,” Mountain View cheer coach Christine Cannon said. “The team helps her with certain cheers, they turn her. They help her with whatever Gabby needs. These girls are encouraging and supportive of her. This is really a great group of girls and they’re really good to her.”
The bond Gabby shares with her 24 teammates is unbreakable and something they will all take together into adulthood. It is a togetherness and a sisterhood that can’t be explained.
“It feels good being a part of the team,” Gabby said, “I always wanted to be a cheerleader.”
Her parents, Isabel and Carson Clements, want her to be a normal kid and have the experiences that kids have. They were delighted when Gabby wanted to try out for cheerleading. The cheer coach made her tryout in May and just didn’t put her on the team to be nice. Gabby beat out 16 other girls to make the team, according to Cannon.
Cannon was more concerned about making sure Gabby had everything she needed to have a fair tryout. She could have just put her on the team, but she didn’t think that would be fair or teach Gabby anything about life, so Cannon made her tryout.
“Nope, I never once thought about her disabilities,” Cannon said, “we treat her like she’s not different.”
The one thing that Cannon saw in Gabby during the tryout was her determination to be a good cheerleader and she felt that Gabby needed a chance just like everyone else and that she had what the team was looking for.
“What she has brought to these girls,” Cannon said, “I think she opened up a different side to them. I respect our girls so much, they (our girls) don’t treat Gabby any different and that’s what I expect out of them. She has 24 sisters.”
Gabby is a normal kid; she loves pepperoni pizza. Gabby is a bold personality and athlete. Last year she sung a song at the school’s talent show by herself and plays softball in the Challenger League for Lions Hondo and would like to be a teacher like her favorite teacher, Nadine Brady. Mountain View will include her in the competition this year. They’re developing a routine for their first competition in Artesia on January 25, 2020.
“I would like to thank the school,” Isabel Clements (Gabby’s mom) said, “her aide and the others involved and the students of Mountain View for allowing her this opportunity. Gabby has never been a part of a team. It gives Gabby something to look forward to. This has done so much for her — she’s not just representing herself, but her team, school and her coach.”
Gabby is proof that with a chance and determination, anything is possible in life. Think high school sports and athletics don’t matter in the life of a child? Ask Gabby.
“All I ever wanted to be was a cheerleader,” said Gabby Clements.
Sports editor J.T. Keith can be reached at 575-622-7710, ext. 304, or firstname.lastname@example.org.