From the editor
Give me an O! Give me a P! Give me another P! Give me another O! Give me an R! This is a long word so stay with me! Give me a T! Give me a U! Give me an N! Give me an I! Give me a T! Give me a Y! Now, what’s that spell?

Opportunity!

Which abounds, but you have to know where to look. If you know where to look and work hard and a little luck falls your way, then it’s off to college with a scholarship, which is the case for OPRF High School senior Jayme Edwards.

Edwards, 18, will head to Waco, Texas in the fall to attend school at Baylor University, which just last summer announced it was adding competitive cheerleading to its intercollegiate athletics program, effective in the 2010-11 academic year. Edwards, 18, who arrived in Oak Park in 2006 via Houston, grew up a tumbler – in the coordinated sense of the word.

When she was just 6 years old, Edwards was performing in gymnastics shows at Disney World and for the Houston Rockets. She even helped her gymnastics team win two championships at the World Gymnaestrada in Lisbon, Portugal.

Edwards stayed with gymnastics and joined OPRF’s varsity cheerleading squad in ’06. She resigned from the squad in December of ’09 to focus her attention on saving money for college. Edwards submitted a video to the new cheer coach at Baylor and was invited to Texas for a tryout. She won over the coaches and was offered and accepted a competitive cheer scholarship worth $34,000 (over four years).

Not only does Edwards excel at gymnastics and cheer, she’s also an exceptional student. Even while working 45 hours per week at Dunkin’ Donuts, the Oak Park Gymnastics Center and Fitness Fusion, Edwards has maintained a 3.5 grade point average and has been on the honor roll each quarter. The effort has also helped her obtain an additional merit scholarship.

“She seems to be the type of person who does better when she’s busy,” says her mother Shawn, executive director of Alcuin Montessori School in Oak Park.

A typical day for Edwards is rising at 6 a.m., going to school from 8-1:30 p.m. and then to one of her three jobs until about 9 p.m. Dinner and homework follow, says her mom, “and she gets to bed whenever she can.”

Her schedule isn’t ordinary for an 18-year-old, but Edwards isn’t exactly ordinary. Shawn says her daughter began crawling at just five months old and was walking by 10 months.

“Gymnastics seemed like a logical activity to get her involved in,” says Shawn.

Now Edwards will join an NCAA Division I competitive cheer team as a back base and tumbler. She’ll receive an excellent education without being weighed down by financial constraints.

And that’s something to cheer about.

Contact: bspencer@wjinc.com

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Brad Spencer

Brad Spencer has been covering sports in and around Oak Park for more than a decade, which means the young athletes he once covered in high school are now out of college and at home living with their parents...