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As older sister prepares for college, younger sister wants to follow in her footsteps

The Dart is a weekly feature by The Natchez Democrat.

Ryder McManus wants to be a cheerleader like her older sister when she grows up. (Nicole Hester, The Natchez Democrat)

VIDALIA — Ryder McManus said she wants to be a cheerleader, a soccer player and a gymnast. But most of all, she wants to be just like her big sister.

When The Dart landed on Mimosa Street in Vidalia, McManus was running in her blue and white cheerleader outfit, headed to a friend’s house just down the road.

A pep rally at Delta Charter School earlier had left McManus’ face peppered with white dots from a face-painting booth.

Taking off the uniform did not seem necessary since she would be cheering at the football game later that night.

McManus is in first grade and she is 6-and-a-half years old. She will be the first to tell you, though, that she is nearly seven.

When asked what her favorite hobby was, McManus readily replied, “Hog hunting.”

She said her father, James Earl McManus, always takes the girls hunting.

“You just have to let the dogs go and you have to listen to where they run,” McManus said. “Then you follow them to the hog.”

McManus, who might weigh 60 pounds after a good meal, describes the way hunters hold the hog down when the dogs corner it.

“It’s easy,” she said. “Yeah, it’s fun.”

Ryder likes “The Cat and the Hat” and readily volunteers her favorite color: blue.

“I don’t like pink or red,” she said. “I like blue — like blue heelers.”

When she is not hog hunting or playing with the dogs — of which the McManus’ have several — she is playing one of the various sports she enjoys or practicing cheer routines.

McManus said she had been on the elementary cheer squad since she was in kindergarten, the first year she was old enough to participate.

Her big sister, Shelby McManus, is also a cheerleader.

The sisters practice together when they have time, and Ryder asks Shelby to help her with handstands, round-offs and routines.

Normally, Ryder can follow Shelby into hobbies and activities — wherever her big sister happens to go.

But Shelby is a senior at Delta Charter and with college approaching, the sisters are preparing to separate.

Shelby wants to study kinesiology and eventually become a physical therapist. In career choices, the sisters differ.

Ryder said she wants to become a gymnastics teacher when she goes to college, though she admits she tried to talk Shelby into the same profession.

“That’s what she wanted me to do,” Shelby McManus said.

Ryder said she will miss her sister. Though she has a little brother, Hayes, she said playing with him is not the same.

“She’s probably the only sister I have,” she said, looking down. “All I’m going to have is my brother and my friends and the dogs.”

The McManus sisters fuss often, but Shelby said she is going to miss the energetic little Ryder, too.

Shelby promises to call and come home often, but Ryder had a different solution.

“I’m going to college, too,” she said. “I’m going to whatever school she goes to.”

About the Author /

clara.turnage@natchezdemocrat.com

Clara Turnage is a reporter for The Natchez Democrat.

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