Sports

Cherry returns to lead Wildcats | Cheer

New Oak Harbor High School cheer coach Kimberly Cherry watches as her team practices lifts. - Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times
New Oak Harbor High School cheer coach Kimberly Cherry watches as her team practices lifts.
— image credit: Jim Waller / Whidbey News-Times

Kimberly Cherry is going back to step one. And, in this case, she has no problem with that.

Cherry is the new Oak Harbor High School cheer coach, returning to where she began her cheer career, then as Kimberly Boon, as a Wildcat freshman in 1999. She closed out her high school years by finishing ninth in the National Cheerleader of the Year competition in 2002.

“I wanted to be the OHHS coach since I was on the team myself,” Cherry said. “The amazing coaching that I had from Pam (Headridge) and Robin (Gohn) led me to have such a passion for the sport of cheerleading.”

Cherry replaces Crista Carlson, who coached one year.

The Oak Harbor program was highly successful under the guidance of Headridge and Gohn, and Cherry will lean on what she was taught from the pair as she begins her own OHHS coaching tenure.

“Part of what I will do is to continually try to build this program to be bigger and better,” Cherry said. To do that, she will be “a teacher first, coach second.”

To continue the program’s success, Cherry said, she will focus on the fundamentals.

“On top of the basics, I want to get the squad learning the new and much more advanced parts of stunting and cheer,” she said. “I have high expectations and standards for my cheerleaders and know that with hard work, we can bring back a successful program.”

Her goals for her athletes are for them to grow as individuals and teammates and for the squad to be community oriented.

“I would like everyone on my team to strive to become outstanding cheerleaders, students, community members and teammates,” Cherry said. “We will represent OHHS to the highest degree, whether at games, performances, events or out in the community. Each cheerleader is required to be passing at all times, and I set a high expectation to do the best they can in each class, as they are students as well as athletes.”

Once the athletes have left her program, Cherry hopes they will have learned to “never give up.”

“I would like my athletes to learn to be good teammates, learn what it is like to be a leader and strive to give 100 percent, 100 percent of the time,” she added.

“I want them to go home at the end of practice or the game and be happy that they chose to be a part of the team,” she said.

The Wildcats, in addition to cheering for Oak Harbor High School, will be involved in community events (such as parades and the Rotary Challenge), hold a youth cheer camp in July and volunteer with the youth football cheerleaders.

After Cherry’s four-year high school cheer career, she coached the Liberty Cheer All-Stars for two years, volunteered to help the OHYFL cheerleaders for three years and served as a volunteer assistant coach for Headridge at OHHS in 2007-8.

Cherry also became a judge for cheer competitions, winning the Washington State Cheer Judges Association Rookie of the Year Award in 2009. She is now the WSCJA treasure.

Always a Wildcat at heart, Cherry is “super excited” to return to where it all began 15 years ago.

“I want to continue to teach the students in the community the sport and hope that they also get as much fulfillment and pride from being a Wildcat cheerleader as I did,” she said.

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