Cheering back from the brink

After nearly having the season cancelled, JDHS cheerleading keeps its tradition alive

Posted: Friday, February 09, 2007

What would it be like if there were no cheerleaders at Juneau-Douglas High School home basketball games?

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That particular scenario nearly came to fruition this year.

As the Crimson Bears' basketball cheerleading team practices for the Southeast Conference championships in March, there are no signs they faced the threat of being dropped for the 2006-2007 school year.

But until late October, the team didn't have a head coach and as a result lost out on hosting the Snow Ball - a JDHS dance typically used as a major fundraiser for the team.

With the threat of no cheer team for this season, several members of the community banded together to form a coaching staff.

Meet the Crimson Bears

JDHS basketball cheerleading

• ReBecca Troutt, sr.

• Aszli Skryzynski, sr.

• Nini Toetuu, jr.

• Rachel Searls, sr.

• Shalyn Harris, sr.

• Alex Vick, sr.

• Vernie Lumbab, jr.

• Ric Sagrado, jr.

• Zarak Malacas, jr.

• Jessica Eriksen, so.

• Xuyen Nguyen, so.

• Alena Lunda, so.

• Briana Donahue, so.

• Mateo Bautista, so.

• Nate Wilson, so.

• Kyla Camba, fr.

• Rizza Soriano, fr.

• Kaye Roldan, fr.

• Ryan Cao, fr.

• Josh Hamilton, fr.

• Mike Bogert, fr.

Tracy Oldaker and Katie Crossley became the head coaches. The team also picked up Geri Robinson, Lam Nguyen, Jeremy "Moose" Carrillo and Megan Bigelow as assistants. After the coaching staff formed in late October, the cheer team held tryouts soon after.

The season officially started on Oct. 30.

"We literally had days to put this together," Oldaker said.

The team is led by its three captains. Senior ReBecca Troutt serves as head captain while senior Aszli Skryzynski and junior Nini Toetuu also serve as captains.

Troutt said she was surprised at how well the team is doing under the circumstances.

"We started from zero and worked our way up," Troutt said. "Some girls have never cheerleaded before this year."

There are no local basketball cheerleading opportunities before high school. The Juneau Youth Football League sponsors cheerleading for both youth and high school football games.

The Crimson Bears are looking to improve on last year's impressive season. The cheer team received first-place honors in the medium division for their cheer-stunt routine at the state championships last March in Anchorage. This year, the team will be competing in the large division for co-ed squads.

If the Crimson Bears receive superior honors, the highest honor awarded in competitive cheerleading, at the regional championships and win first place in the state championships in Anchorage, they will qualify for a national championship competition.

To do these things, however, costs money.

The cost of a typical cheerleading season ranges from $15,000 to $20,000, according to Oldaker. She said the Snow Ball typically brought in about $10,000 to the team.

This Saturday, the cheer team will hold the JDHS Cheer Clinic for young athletes from ages 7 to 18. The clinic serves as the team's major fundraiser. The other fundraiser for the cheer team is by selling banners to local businesses. These banners are then placed in the JDHS gym.

Basketball cheerleading is an Alaska School Activities Association recognized winter sport, just like basketball, hockey and wrestling. Oldaker, however, said she would like the cheer team to be eventually registered as a competitive sport, which is a year-round activity and will allow the athletes more time to train.

"Cheerleading is an aggressive sport that requires strength, balance and flexibility," Troutt said.

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