WEST ORANGE, NJ - For those that may question whether or not cheerleaders are athletes, meet Tonie Johnstone, the West Orange Athlete of the Week.

Tonie has been cheering since seventh grade. Alhough she couldn’t cheer freshman year due to back surgery, she has cheered for the past three years.  In her senior year, she has become a captain and leader of the squad.

“My favorite part of cheerleading is stunting. I live being able to hit our stunts and then trying new stunts that we never would have thought about doing,” Johnstone said.

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Tonie’s cheer teammate, junior Kailyn Scott, praised Johnstone, saying, “As a senior, and also as a captain, Tonie brings great leadership to our team. As underclassmen, we look up to her for guidance. She is a very approachable person. I know that we can talk to her about anything and she is always willing to give a helping hand.”

Johnstone is not only a senior captain of the West Orange High School varsity cheerleading team, she also competes in beauty pageants. During the Homecoming game on Friday, Oct. 18, part of her night was spent at the Homecoming game, and part of her night was spent competing in the Miss New Jersey Teen beauty pageant. “It was such an honor to be selected to participate in the pageant but the best part was meeting other talented and beautiful young ladies from all over New Jersey,” Johnstone said.

This was Johnstone’s first pageant. She would have loved to have won, but went into it to enjoy the experience. “My favorite part (of the competition) was the evening gown (competition) because everyone looked so beautiful and elegant.”

Tonie doesn’t only cheer and compete in pageants.  She is the head makeup artist for West Orange High School’s Drama Club. She also competed on the varsity swim team her freshman year, only to have to give it up to be able to be a cheerleader. Her future plans are to attend either the University of Tampa or the University of Maryland and double major in mathematics and business finance. She hopes to continue to cheer in college.

Johnstone led the cheer competition team to their second straight SEC championship on Tuesday, Oct. 29.