Cascade High’s cheer team wins entry to national competiton
The Cascade Bruin cheerleader team practices one of its routines earlier this academic year.
EVERETT — The Bruin cheerleaders are flying high after winning a bid to nationals during a state championship in December.
The Cascade High School varsity squad will be competing at the JAMZ School
Cheer Nationals in Las Vegas Feb. 22 and 23.
They’re building on a budding legacy of success. The varsity squad were the 2018 WIAA State Champions, placing first in the 4A Non-Tumbling Coed division. It was Coach Trish Roberts’ first year.
The win was inspiring but the squad isn’t resting on its laurels. With 12 of the 19 members new this school year, they’ve had to rise to the occasion, Roberts said.
Flyers and the bases that hoist and steady them are sweating and red as beets as they exuberantly tackle aerial stunts during pre-competition practices.
As practice starts, the cheerleaders laugh, joke and occasionally grimace if a stunt doesn’t go quite right.
This is a team with “big personalities, very sassy,” that likes to goof around, says head captain Cole Andersen, 18.
For all the silliness, they’re clearly committed to each other, cheering each success and belting out encouragement at rough spots.
As practice goes on, the group settles in, the faces slowly taking on a cast of concentration.
The risks and rewards are both high at this level, as is the trust between teammates.
They’re mastering high-level skills in twisting, tumbling and pyramid-building.
“It’s just the bond,” captain Ainsley Jordan, 16, says she loves most about cheer. “I can say ‘these are my people,’ and without that on the floor, it’s harder, especially
with a rigorous sport” such as cheer.
The sport’s rigors can take a toll; these cheerleaders have suffered everything from a
broken ankle to a concussion.
Jordan’s battled back from her own challenge: scoliosis, the curvature of the spine.
She’s had to sit out some routines, but she’s taken the opportunity to focus on being a captain and learn from observing things she wouldn’t get perspective on while in the middle of performing.
When they’re not practicing, the squad stays busy fundraising.
The trip to nationals will cost $750 per player, Roberts says. To earn the money, some of the students and their dedicated parents work at Angel of the Winds Arena, earning $50 per shift. But the squad also uses some of its funds for selfless endeavors, like a Martin Luther King Day blanket making project.
They’ll be flying to Las Vegas in two weeks.
“For some people, it’s like their first slumber party ever,” Andersen says.
He isn’t above stacking the deck just a little.
He thinks his lucky purple hair scrunchie just might have given the team an edge.
“Last year we qualified (for nationals) with a 92, this year we received a 94. The squad also made huge gains in their Co-Ed Show Cheer, jumping from a score of 71 at the end of 2017 to a 91,” Coach
Beyond the high scores, Roberts is also proud to have added a second squad to the school’s roster. She added it to help ensure Cascade cheer is
“accessible,” she said.
The school’s silver team, now in its second year, gives students who may have no cheer experience the opportunity to learn the ropes.
No doubt the varsity squad will have wisdom from all their wins to pass on to their sibling team. But as they chase each other around in an impromptu game of tag after a full-out practice, the mantra work hard, play hard seems fitting.
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