Staring down the barrel at the end of her cheerleading career due to injury, Fairhope senior Michelle Bossard not only overcame adversity to earn her All-American trip to the Citrus Bowl but also …
Staring down the barrel at the end of her cheerleading career due to injury, Fairhope senior Michelle Bossard not only overcame adversity to earn her All-American trip to the Citrus Bowl but also extended her career after she signed with the University of Mobile’s competitive cheer squad.
An AC separation in her right shoulder left the tumbling acrobat grounded, wondering if she’d ever be able to compete again pain-free. And just as they had scheduled Bossard’s surgery, the COVID-19 pandemic shut the world down and postponed the possible saving grace.
Through physical therapy, Bossard was at least able to attempt her tryout video for her sophomore season on the Fairhope High team, but even in the tape the shoulder was visibly unwell and ended up giving out over the course of the exercise. Luckily, the surgery was only days later in May of 2021, and she was able to return to the mat full-strength later that summer.
“It was a huge weight lifted off my shoulders. I felt like I was finally able to do what I ultimately love to do, and it was such a relief to finally be back,” Bossard said. “Obviously it was painful at first, but the pain was worth it because I was doing what I love with people that I love.”
That feeling was further emphasized this holiday season when Bossard finally cashed in on the deal she made with her mother and got to go on the trip that accompanied her All-American status from the Universal Cheerleading Association. After she earned All-American honors as an eighth grader, freshman and sophomore, Michelle’s mom Megan agreed she could go on the trip to the bowl game if she made it again as a senior.
Although an ankle injury nearly stood in the way of that, Michelle got the nod to perform at the Cheez-It Citrus Bowl in Orlando Jan. 2 where she said she took a few extra moments to appreciate the situation.
“If I go back to when I was in the process of having it all done, where I really thought that I was never going to cheer again and how heartbreaking that was, now when I'm on the field or when I'm sitting on the sidelines at basketball it's really just a ‘Wow’ moment and I know that God ultimately wanted me here, and that this was His plan all along,” Bossard said. “It really just makes me take in those moments a little bit more.”
She was also able to take in those moments alongside one of her childhood best friends, Laylah Therrell, who performed at her second straight Citrus Bowl as the Foley High School mascot Leo the Lion. The pair have been friends since around the age of eight and grew up like sisters, Bossard said, and that paid off amidst the hustle and bustle of a college football bowl game.
“She was super helpful because she knew where to go and when we needed to be there and all that stuff and it made it so much easier,” Bossard said. “I don't think I would have been able to do it without her.”
It was later that same week where Bossard extended her cheerleading career and signed with the University of Mobile Rams who have qualified for the NAIA National Championship meet every year since 2019 and will look to make a fourth straight trip in March.
Bossard said her connection to the team through open gym workouts, as well as the interest from head coach Kami Whiteis, made her decision to sign with the Rams easy.
“Coach Kami was really good about talking to me and getting me introduced to the team and to the other coaches that they have. She is very supportive, she even came to my regional competition in Mobile,” Bossard said. “She's been super supportive through my whole senior year and has just been waiting patiently until I could sign.”
With that, her sights now shift to college cheerleading and studies with plans of a pre-physical therapy major and a ministry minor. Bossard said she’s always wanted to help people but her injuries and experiences with physical therapists encouraged her to enter the same field.
“The physical therapists that I encountered really made the process a lot easier, they always pushed me and even if it was a little painful, they always made sure that it was where I was on track and on schedule to recovery,” Bossard said.