McALESTER — With her older brother playing basketball for McAlester, Kalyn Pirpich spent many nights of her childhood at Bob Brumley Gymnasium, watching both the Buffs and the cheerleaders. She tried out for and made the cheerleading squad heading into her freshman year at McAlester High School, but a year later switched to pom because it was more dance-oriented.
She’s been on pom ever since.
“I ended up really liking pom,” Pirpich said Friday.
“You go to school all week, and it’s stressful and emotional and you have all kinds of different troubles. And then you go to dance, and you just let it out.”
Pirpich grew up in McAlester, going to Frink-Chambers for elementary school and junior high, then coming to MHS. She started dancing as a 2-year-old at Angie’s Dance Plus in McAlester, her first clear memory being a jazz dance solo competition in Midwest City at which she competed as a 7-year-old.
“The song was ‘Teach Me How to Shimmy,’” Pirpich said. “I was really nervous, and all my mom told me was to use my face and to go out there and have fun. ... I ended up getting first place, I think, and I got an award for the best style.”
Pirpich used to teach at Angie’s, and she still takes class there — eight classes, to be precise. She said tap is her favorite dance style.
“You can talk through your feet,” Pirpich said of tap. “You just go out there, and the feeling is just crazy, being out there and being able to move your feet so fast.”
Though Pirpich did cheer her first year, many members of the pom squad have taken class at Angie’s. She said those classmates eventually recruited her to switch squads.
“I started tumbling like December of my eighth-grade year,” Pirpich said. “So it was like a quick process to learn how to tumble (for cheer) and get everything together.”