Cheerleading Creates Lifelong Friendships
Extra-curricular activities are considered important to the development of well-rounded students. It’s where students apply classroom learning, build friendships, and participate in some rewarding and memorable experiences. For Scarlet (Mulket) Barron and Paul Fritch, cheerleading built lasting relationships and generated confidence that carried throughout their lives.
Paul was Scarlet’s cheerleading coach at MAC from 2011-2013. When Scarlet and Paul are together, the reminiscing begins. Scarlet says, “Being selected to the MAC Cheer Squad as a freshman was a big accomplishment for me. Cheerleading was my only extra activity while attending MAC, and it kept me busy constantly! My cheer coach (Paul) really had an impact on all of us. Looking back, there were two exceptional things about Coach that helped us as we transitioned from high school to college. First, he treated us like adults which was a change from high school. We had cheerleading responsibilities on top of our classes, so we had to learn to be sure everything got done. Second, he really cared that we were successful and helped us—and pushed us—when we needed it. (And … although he gave me a B in his class, he's still my favorite!) I will always remember traveling with my team to University of Alabama for cheer camp.”
2012-2013 MAC Cheerleading Team and Kirby
Scarlet and Paul burst into laughter when Scarlet reminds him, “Remember the time you said the cheerleaders were not listening to you … and, to make your point, you walked away and kicked the 50-pound speaker in your way? Then, a short time later, you admitted to me you badly injured your foot!” Paul says, “Scarlet’s group was the most determined, flexible, and talented team of college kids I ever coached. They did any move, stunt, or trick I suggested. Heck, a few of them came to me with crazy, ridiculous ideas they saw four-year and pro cheerleaders do! They were up for almost any challenge.”
Of her MAC experience, Scarlet says, “Ironically, MAC helped me sort through some careers I didn’t want to do. I went to MAC thinking I wanted to do web design and photography. But at the end of the two years, I knew I wanted to do something in the health field. MAC helped me mature into a young adult and prepared me to go to a university. I know for a fact if I had gone straight to a university as a freshman, I would not have made it. Before MAC, I really had little idea how to study, how to organize classes, and what was expected of me as a student. To this day, I strongly recommend that high school seniors go to MAC first. Make your mistakes where the credit hours are a quarter of the price!”
Scarlet says she was never an exceptional student; however, once she found her niche—fitness and exercise—she excelled. After MAC, Scarlet attended the University of Missouri-Columbia and was selected to study in Japan about its nutrition and healthy lifestyles. She earned her BS in Nutrition with a minor in exercise physiology. She holds two certifications: ACSM Exercise Physiologist and USAW Weightlifting Coach.
Scarlet’s goal was to own her own business. “I worked in a few different gyms while in Columbia. I realized the corporate gym environment was not for me. However, I was fortunate to work in a gym that helped formulate my vision for the kind of gym I wanted to build. I wanted to work with individuals to develop personalized fitness plans and work toward their success at each visit.” Scarlet shares her dream—and challenges—about opening her gym. “It was a little crazy when I look back. In 2017, I moved back here. I remember sitting and talking to my grandparents about my gym idea. My grandpa asked if I had the money to start my gym. When I said, ‘No,’ he offered to loan me the $3,000 I needed. So, I bought some equipment and started in my basement. I used Facebook to recruit some people. Then, I mustered the confidence and courage to rent a place in Park Hills that came available. Although I knew the fitness component well, there was a lot of trial-and-error for the business side at the beginning. Now, I can say my biggest accomplishment is creating my business—Stay Fit Personal Training in Park Hills. What started in my basement about two years ago has expanded into two gym locations and two additional trainers working with me.” Outside the gym, Scarlet enjoys reading and time with her family. She and her husband are expecting their first child in February 2023.
Scarlet and Paul pictured outside the gym that Scarlet owns.
Sometimes MAC alumni return as instructors. Such is the case for Paul, technology instructor 1994-2020. Here is Paul’s abbreviated version. “I was raised in Jefferson County, and after high school, I earned an HVAC certificate from Jefferson College in 1986. I worked as a drafter/designer for the Canon Group in Clayton, Missouri. After a couple of years, I decided to go back to school. My parents wanted me to go back to Jeffco, but I needed a change of scenery. I went to Flat River to talk to my grandparents—Gertrude and Charlie Crane—about this new venture. If any of you know my grandparents, then you know I wasn’t denied. I started MAC in the Spring of 1989. I remember thinking my 18 credit hours was going to be easy ... but I only completed nine. Back then, if you didn’t do well, you were sent to Dean Dickenson’s office to explain. He told me to get my act together and I did!
That semester I met two students—Marti Hawkins (North County) and Alvin Sutton (Central) —who helped shape my path. To this very day, I remember them asking if I wanted to come to cheer practices in Ben Chang’s Intro to Chemistry class. After some begging, I decided to give it a try. Little did I know that I would cheer for four years and coach for another 24! About the same time, Tad Satterfield (North County) was recruited and we ended up becoming best friends for all four years in college.
Cheerleading created so many great memories for me as a cheerleader and as a cheer coach. One of the funniest was when we drove to Mesa, Arizona for a men's basketball tournament. I drove one of the vans. (You could do that back then.) It snowed so much that it took 11 hours to get to Joplin. One of our stops was Santa Fe, New Mexico. It had snowed about six inches and the cheerleaders wanted me to do doughnuts in the 15-passenger van. Without hesitating, I did about three quick ones. I would have done more but the girls were getting sick! So, I pulled over and went around to the big sliding side door to let everyone out. I pulled the handle and I remember the door just kept sliding ... and sliding ... right off the van! It took over 20 minutes and we finally got the door back on. Needless to say, no one sat by the door. On the scary side, there was the men’s basketball game against John A. Logan. MAC was winning by 20 points at the half. Kevin Thurman (Farmington) made a dunk to start the second half. As he started to go to the other end, an opposing player threw the ball to the back of his head. Next thing I knew, all hell broke loose and players were suspended from the game. Kelley Gray (Coach’s wife) pushed me over the first bleacher and told me to stay put. After an eternity, the game resumed with maybe 5-on-4 players and not in our favor. The game finished with 3-on-2 players, and we won by 2 points. Immediately after the game, we were rushed to the vans and had a police escort out of town! Other things I remember are playing the Cyclone with Roy Henson (North County) and Travis Snelling (Webster Groves), being in one of Dr. Reney’s musicals, the Basketball House, Spring Picnic, Student Council, and watching people smoke in all the buildings! Some of my favorite teachers were Ben Chang, Dr. Reney, Bob Civey, and Jenny Gunn. After graduating in May 1991, I finished my studies and cheerleading at SEMO. I will always cherish my time at MAC.
Fast forward two years … In August 1993, I graduated from SEMO and was ready to work. The job market was tough because manufacturing was doing a lot of layoffs and management wasn’t interested in taking chances on someone with zero experience. Things began to change in February 1994 when I learned Kelley Gray was planning to give up her MAC cheerleader coaching position. I jumped in my Hyundai Excel and headed to talk with Dean Dickenson about my cheerleading background. Immediately, I said ‘yes’ to his $500 (total) offer! A month later, during cheer tryouts in the gym, President Dixie Kohn stopped by. Like always, he asked about my grandparents and what my plans were. I told him that I was looking for a job but to no avail. He said to meet him Monday morning to discuss the new admissions field representative position. Heck, it was exactly like what I did at SEMO! I agreed to a $15,000 contract and I was hired right there. Back then Dr. Kohn, served as college president and Human Resources director! Two weeks before the Fall 1994 semester started, a teacher abruptly quit. This left Dean Al Sullivan in a bad position. Word was out that I knew the course content and I was asked to teach. I quickly said yes. So, I taught 21 hours and recruited students for my first semester. That was insane. In June 1997, I was hired as a permanent instructor and the rest was history.
Fast forward to March 2020 … Everything was going smoothly. I had eight weeks left until my retirement and I was ready to move on. Then, Covid suddenly shut down MAC, along with the rest of the United States. After a few weeks, we all figured out how to make classes happen via the Internet. During that time, it gave me the opportunity to clean out my classroom, get grades in and close my MAC chapter. Selfishly I wanted to say my final goodbyes to students, friends and to get my parting gift at Commencement. None will ever be granted. Despite not having real closure, I know am blessed to have been surrounded by so many wonderful students and coworkers.