MOUNT ZION – All the years of dancing and tumbling lessons have paid off for Mount Zion native Madison Harper.
“I love Tampa,” she said. “The community is amazing.
After graduating from Mount Zion High School in 2019, Harper moved to Tampa, due to the college atmosphere and medical program, she said. She is studying for a degree in biomedical sciences with the hope of becoming radiologist.
“I’m hoping to go to med school, but I’m taking a year off,” Harper said. “I want to volunteer more hours in the community before I apply for medical school. “
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Although she had researched universities, Harper had her eye on Florida. “Tampa is a place that I have watched and loved,” she said. “The community, the students, the team, they were super welcoming. And USF has a great medical school.
Harper started dancing and tumbling lessons at the age of 2 in various local classes including Mount Zion, Macon and Bloomington. “The main dance studio, I would say, helped me the most is Art in Motion,” Harper said of the Champaign dance studio.
According to Harper’s mother, Pam, her daughter has always been motivated.
“She was always focused,” Pam Harper said. “She was either in training or in school doing her homework. It’s not free.
Pam Harper was the parent of many times seen in practice and competition. “I’ve never run out of it,” she said. “As a parent, you also gain a lot of friendships. “
But his participation in the events was motivated by his admiration for his daughter. “I loved watching,” Pam Harper said. “Not just her, I love watching her, all of her teammates. They are so talented.
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Like all fans, the Harpers are hopeful the Buccaneers will return to the Super Bowl this year.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers organization supported Harper and her family. “They are very friendly to me personally,” said Pam Harper. “And they are very good for my daughter. She is very neat.
As a little girl, Harper thought a career in dancing or tumbling was an option. She was a member of the Mount Zion High School dance team and danced for the USF SunDolls for two years before auditioning for the Buccaneers. “But I had an NFL cheerleader on my radar,” she said.
Every year, Harper will have to try in the spring for another spot on the Buccaneer cheerleading squad. The starting age is 18 years old. At 20, Harper said she was the youngest on the 2021-2022 squad. “It really depends on personal ability, not age,” Harper said.
For her first attempt on the Tampa Bay team, she faced nearly 600 candidates. The last group consisted of around 50 dancers. “Then it went from there to our 27 team members,” she said. “Everyone on the team, men and women, are so talented.”
Harper finds his teammates encouraging and motivating. “It can be helpful for us to be surrounded by equally talented people, if not more talented,” she said. “It pushes you to be better. “
Now Harper is a motivator for young dancers. “Keep pushing to be the best you can be,” she said. “Never give up.”
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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR