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Katie Scheer: Student overcomes doubts to lead Maize High classmates

The adage that big things come in small packages has proven true for Maize High School senior Katie Scheer, who stands 3 feet and 10 inches tall. Katie said that she easily could have allowed her consuming thoughts of self-doubt, anxiety, and fear prevent her from blossoming into the full-of-life cheerful teenage girl so many have seen leading her peers and community on the sidelines of Eagle sporting events.

Fortunately for herself and the OneMa1ze community, Katie, who was born with achondroplasia, overcame her troubling doubts when she learned to ask for support from those around her and ignore the worries about what others thought about her.

Katie is like many of her peers: She competes in sports; serves on different school committees, including Peer Helpers and National Honors Society; and enjoys being with friends and family and volunteering in the community. One difference, however, is that Katie has a type of dwarfism where she has shorter arms and legs but an average-sized torso.

“I am constantly reminding myself that I can do anything, I’m no different, only a different size than my peers,” Katie said.

As a cheerleader for the Maize Eagles since her 7th-grade year of school, she has continuously broken the stereotypical mold the sport encompasses. Through the years, she has become less afraid to break the status quo, showing that dwarfism and any disability does not define the individual. Instead, her character and personality shines bright, but it was not always that way.

“I’m naturally shy and like to keep to myself,” she said. “When I started high school, it became harder for me to want to cheer. I started becoming afraid of how others viewed me. It made me think less of myself.”

During her high school years, she also faced moments where she had to overcome waves of fear, anxiety, and day-to-day struggles that plagued her. The anxiety stemmed from social fears of not knowing what others thought about her or her disability.

“It took awhile to open up to people in my life about what I was dealing with,” Katie said. “My friends and family have shown support, pushed me, and encouraged me to continuously step out of my comfort zone.”

Just like opening up to others, it took time for Katie to get acquainted with the spotlight. She was not always the one ready to help others get pepped up for the game. But, with time and repetition, her mindset of how others saw her started to change.

“I eventually realized that it didn’t matter what others thought,” she said. “It started to become more fun bringing the pep and excitement to the student body instead of crawling back inside my shell.”

Whether she is on the sidelines rallying for her fellow peers or off the court welcoming home veterans returning from their Kansas Honor Flight, Katie is a kind and supportive teammate, willing to go the extra mile to help ensure that everyone feels welcomed and involved on the cheerleading squad.

Head cheerleading coach for the Maize High School Eagles Tara Wall-Meyer said, “As a Varsity cheerleader this year, she’s taken the initiative to bridge the gap between JV and Varsity, drawing from past experience, which has been beneficial to our entire team. She’s irreplaceable and a great asset to our team.”

Katie’s parents, Dan and Kate Scheer, said that their daughter has taught them disabilities or size do not make a person. Kate said, “She has helped us recognize that physical appearance does not define us. She’s just like everyone else, only smaller.”

They describe Katie as being “fiercely independent.” Throughout her 17 years, she has learned that true maturity is realized when you need help and know that asking is not a weakness.

“I’ve learned that it is OK to ask for help,” Katie said. “When I was younger, I wasn’t brave enough to ask, and I would try to be perfect. But now, everyone is willing and happy to help with any situation that may arise. My ability, whether that’s cheer or schooling, will practically be the same: Some things may be higher and take a bit longer to accomplish, which is fine.”

As she nears graduation in May 2022, Katie said she is thankful for the staff members and coaches she has had throughout her years of school in the Maize district. Whether it was having her pass to access the bathrooms or water fountains at different times or step stools in her classroom, she said that Maize has always helped accommodate her needs and make her feel comfortable.

Katie looks forward to going to the University of Kansas in the fall and majoring in nursing after taking interest in the profession from courses she has taken through the Maize Career Academy.