The Elon University cheerleading team welcomed an unofficial member this basketball season.
Five-year old Ava Matheny, daughter of Elon head men's basketball coach Matt Matheny has been suiting up in maroon and gold, and melting the hearts of Phoenix fans throughout Alumni Gym.
"Its cool after games just to see people say I watched your daughter and she's the cutest thing in the world," Coach Matheny said.
Ava got her start in cheerleading in November after spending the last few years watching from the stands.
"After a few years of sitting in the stands, she decided she wanted to try [cheerleading]," Ava's mom Jennifer Matheny said. "So [Elon cheerleading Coach Lauren Van Fleet] got her a pair of pom poms and let her try cheering with some of the cheerleaders."
After just a short time cheering on the sidelines, Ava has fallen in love. She says she really likes to go to the corners of Alumni Gym and cheering up the crowd, and that her favorite cheer is "Go Elon, Go."
While Ava rallies the crowds during Phoenix games, Coach Matheny said she actually helps take pressure off of him and his team.
"I love that she's getting the attention, particularly if we're not playing well, she's really helping us," Coach Matheny said. "[Seeing Ava] with the cheerleading outfit, to me, really in an intense situation, makes me smile and warms my heart to see her getting so excited about Elon"
Ava, who is finishing off kindergarten this school year, has 12 more years to go before she can officially join the ranks of the Phoenix cheerleaders, but says she can't wait.