Miami Central High football players received an outpouring of donations after being stuck in Las Vegas for more than a week, but the accompanying 25 cheerleaders and their chaperones faced additional challenges, such as paying for their hotel.
The team arrived on a Thursday and was expected to fly out by Sunday, but Hurricane Irma delayed its departure until the following Friday, varsity cheer coach Lakesha Rolle said. The football team received several donated meals from businesses including Evel Pie and North Las Vegas restaurant WingTime, while the cheer team went grocery shopping for some meals.
Henderson’s KCEP FM public radio asked listeners to drop off items for football players, cheerleaders and others who traveled with the team, a station representative said. North Las Vegas Fire Department Capt. and public-information officer Cedric Williams said he donated gift cards — for food and leisure activities — on behalf of the Firefighters of Southern Nevada Burn Foundation.
Eating wasn’t as much of a challenge as paying for the hotel, Lakesha Rolle said. Bishop Gorman paid for the football team’s rooms Saturday through Monday and bought the team dinner for the entire weekend, but the cheerleaders had to move from the MGM Grand hotel to the Westgate, team chaperone Deshawn Smith said. She has two daughters and a niece on the team.
Lakesha Rolle said that although the cheer team had prepared for having to stay longer due to the hurricane, members ran short on money. Some of the girls had to ask their parents for money to get through the week, 18-year-old Barbara Bellamy said.
“We’ve been out here worried about our parents and we’re asking them for money, but they are having to be worried about the hurricane,” she said. “Now that we don’t have to worry about paying, we’re less worried.”
Tuesday morning, North Las Vegas dance studio owner Tyrell Rolle — no relation to Lakesha Rolle — began making arrangements to help the girls. He is from Miami and attended the rival Miami Northwestern Senior High School. He said he ran into Miami Central’s coach in a hotel lobby.
“When he told me there were 25 cheerleaders, I was like, wait, so where are these girls?” he said. “People forget about the arts.”
In less than 24 hours, Tyrell Rolle ordered a bus to bring the girls from their hotel to his Dance 305 Studio for a one-hour dance workshop. He said he wanted to get the cheerleaders’ minds off their situation and let them release tension through dance. His team contacted Sam’s Club, which donated fruit, sandwiches and treats, while parents of students at the studio brought drinks. North Las Vegas-based Tsp. Baking Co. donated cupcakes and breakfast rolls, Tyrell Rolle said. The cheerleaders were allowed to take leftovers to the hotel.
“The football team was getting all of the publicity, and we were like, ‘What about us?’” she said. “So kudos to Dance 305 for reaching out to us. When (Tyrell) saw us, it was almost like, ‘You are home.’”
Dance 305 instructor Nadine Grossini led the first 30 minutes of the workshop, teaching the girls — who were wearing white-and-green cheer uniforms and polka-dot bows in their hair — a short routine to the song “No Scrubs” by TLC, then had them participate in a “cypher” in which they battled one on one. Tyrell Rolle instructed the second half of the workshop and taught the girls a routine that was reminiscent of their dance style back home, 15-year-old sophomore Kyerah Etherdige said.
“It was nice to dance, especially since the choreographer is from Miami. It made me feel at home,” she said. “It feels good that people are acknowledging us, because even back home we’re considered a club and not a sport.”
Tyrell Rolle did more than just distract the cheerleaders, Smith said.
“This was great for them to get to see someone who came from the same area as them, and to show that good things do come out of Miami,” she said.
It was the entire team’s first visit to Las Vegas, Lakesha Rolle said. Team members visited the Bellagio, went to the hotel pool and practiced routines at a community center with a local cheer team. The dance workshop was one of the highlights of the trip, Bellamy said.
“Yesterday, we were all frustrated, but this morning, we all woke up with a happy and positive vibe,” she said. “When we found out all of the stuff we were going to be doing today, we were so excited.”
When Tyrell Rolle announced they had also scheduled for the cheerleaders to get their nails and hair done at a cosmetology school, their faces lit up and they began cheering.