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Going to the next level… Unaka’s Houghton to continue cheering at King College

It has been a special week for Unaka High School student-athlete Katie Houghton.
On Tuesday, Houghton was able to gather with her classmates and become an official Ranger alumnus as she received her high school diploma.
Then, on Friday afternoon at Riverview Baptist Church’s fellowship hall, Houghton along with many friends and family gathered to celebrate as she put ink to paper to become a member of the King College Cheer team joining some other former Carter County cheerleaders at the school in Bristol.
She will be one of the 34 members that will comprise the King Tornado Cheer and Dance team this upcoming season.
“I am really excited to cheer collegiately,” Houghton said after signing. “It will be a different experience plus I will be meeting a lot of new people.
“Cheering for Unaka helped me to learn from my mistakes and learn what I could do better.”
As with anything new, there are always adjustments that have to be made going into a new program. Houghton was asked what she thought would be a challenge moving to the college level of cheer.
“Probably trying to learn new cheers and dances to become the best I can be,” said Houghton. “It makes me feel a lot better other girls from Carter County will be there. So I not as nervous as I would have been.”
King College cheer and dance coach Mary Edwards had nothing but praise for Houghton and is looking forward to her joining the Tornado program.
“I feel more than a solid athlete that I am getting a wonderful human being,” Edwards said of Houghton. “She has a huge heart. You can just see it when she smiles that she is there for her teammates.
“Even though we had only one practice with her, I saw how much she cares about other people.
“To me, that is number one,” continued Edwards. “On the other side of that, she is just a talented athlete that will bring so much to the team. We are really, really going to win Nationals next year – I feel it in my bones, and Katie is just another added piece that is going to help get us there.”
Edwards also feels like Houghton fits the mold of a King athlete and student.
“I really want to push these kids to be good academically,” Edwards added. “I want them to be good, decent human beings. That is what we are – we are more of a family than a team. She checks off all those boxes.”
And as far as leaving Unaka, Houghton said she would carry some special memories with her as she enters the collegiate realm.
” I am going to really remember going to state and cheering with the four friends I had on the team,” Houghton said of one of her favorite memories.