Athlete Spotlight: James Wood cheerleader Alexsandra Smith

5dd1e77996b80.imageJames Wood High School 18-year-old senior

Sport: Cheerleading. Position: Back spot

Parents: Michael and Connie Smith. Hometown: Winchester

What do you love about cheerleading: I love the familial aspect of it. We spend a lot of time together in practices. Our season is pretty long. ... We spend almost year-round with each so you really get to know your team. You are traveling a lot with them during competition season. The feeling of family is really nice to have.

Most memorable moment in cheerleading: When we went to states my freshman year. I came from a small private school, so I was really never on a sports team that had big things like that. Going to states was just an experience that I had never felt before. The adrenaline rush that I had there was amazing.

Most embarrassing moment in cheerleading: Oh gosh, where do I start? On the sidelines on Friday nights — it's not really a one-time thing and happens pretty much every week — if you mess up a cheer or call a cheer wrong being cheer captain it's embarrassing because the whole Loud Crowd looks at you and all of the parents. You're obviously speaking before anyone else, so it's an obvious mistake. That's embarrassing.

Most difficult moment in cheerleading: My sophomore year I broke my hand in the middle of the competition cheer season. It wasn't a big enough injury to stop me from competing but it was obviously very uncomfortable for the rest of the season. It was difficult to figure out if I should take the rest of the season off if it was going to make things worse or if I could finish up the season, help my team and ultimately make it to states.

Three people you can have dinner with, dead or alive: Taylor Swift, she is a great example for young women of just a strong female. She hasn't had a prominent man her life ever and she's still extremely successful. I look up to her for that and that she's so independent; Simone Biles, she is an amazing athlete and she's traversed through some hard times in her life to get where she is now. Nothing really came easy for her and she's had to work hard for all of the success that she's gained; My mom, because she always has great advice to give. We're very similar so that keeps things entertaining. We see eye-to-eye on a lot of stuff.

Guilty pleasure: Binge-watching Netflix. I watch medical TV shows — House, Grey's Anatomy. Mostly those two.

Favorite teacher: Teresa Haskiell at James Wood. She was my honors math analysis and calculus teacher last year. I feel like more so than other teachers she really cared about spending time outside the classroom when her students needed help. I spent a lot of time with her in study hall and after school. She was really helpful and willing to spend personal time outside of school hours which I thought was really respectable.

Favorite athlete: [Virginia basketball player] Mamadi Diakite

Favorite team: Pittsburgh Steelers

 Favorite movie: "Shawshank Redemption"

Favorite TV show: "Grey's Anatomy"

Favorite song: "The Man," by Taylor Swift

Favorite food: Mexican food from El Centro

Plans after college: To study biology on the pre-med track at the University of Virginia. My mom is a doctor here in town, so I've just pretty much grown up always hearing all of the cool stories she has from work. I've done a lot of volunteer work at the hospital, too. Being in that environment is where I belong.

— Compiled by Walt Moody

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$250 Annual Winner

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$250 Annual Drawing was
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