Tryouts for the 2014-15 season were held this past spring. All the girls are expected to tryout, even if they competed last season. Independent judges are brought in for the tryouts, in determining the athletes who will take part in the new season of cheer.
After tryouts took place six VHS students were selected for the team, starting with this year’s captains Meagan Schirmeister and Nichole Gardner. Joining them are first year cheerleaders Breanna Gardner, Hope Cutright, Emma Campos and Jaelynne McCallum.
The program saw its biggest increase in numbers after four foreign exchange girls joined the program. Cecilie Birkelund (Denmark), Sandra Romenchuk (Ukraine), Sandra Mey (Germany), and Kristine Lauenborg (Denmark) are now part of the Vernonia Cheer squad. “We are so blessed to have these athletes join our program,” says head cheer coach Dee Way.
Last year was the first time the team has qualified for OSAA State since 1984. “This was a great accomplishment for the small group of girls that competed,” says Coach Dee. “The girls had so much fun, and it was a great experience for all of them. We look forward to going back this season.”
Since tryouts in spring, the cheerleading squad had put in over 100 hours of practice time, and spent several days at cheer camp.
But the one thing that the team is most proud of is the amount of community service hours they have put in. The squad earned over 150 hours of community service during the summer months. The cheer program partnered up with Coach Chris Barnes and VHS Wrestling, while volunteering at the Vernonia Cares Food Bank, helping unload freight, as well as helping families shop for their supplies. During the month of June the cheerleaders volunteered for the Hands on Development camp, helping out with the kids and the counselors. The cheerleaders also washed all the fire trucks for the fire department prior to the 4th of July parade. In August the girls cooked an Italian meal and served dinner at their monthly business meeting. Jamboree weekend rolled around and the cheerleaders and the wrestlers worked hard keeping the town clean. August 9th the cheer and wrestling programs volunteered at the North Plains Garlic Festival 5/10K race.
Coach Dee says the team is ready for the season and were excited for the first Loggers home football game on September 12. The stadium looked great thanks to the work of the cheer squad who painted and decorated prior to the season home opener.
The squad now as a full competition floor for practicing, which they purchased with funds they have raised and along with a generous donation from the Vernonia Volunteer Firefighters. “Now we don’t have to worry about scheduling practice time around other teams,” says Coach Dee. “This is huge for us.”
Coach Dee is proud of the fact that her squad has the second best team GPA, behind the girls cross country team. Last year the team had a cumulative GPA of 3.85.
Competition season is right around the corner. Meagan Schirmeister will represent the squad and compete individually on October 25 at the All State competition. The squad has several competitions scheduled throughout the fall and winter, preparing for a National competition in December and the State Competition on February 14 followed by the Oregon Cheerleading Coaches Association Championships.
“Cheerleading is a year round sport,” says Coach Dee. “We go from April to April each year.”