Cheer team steps up for 2008/09 season

Supported by her teammates, Courtney Tuttle works on one of the high-flying routines during practice. - Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times
Supported by her teammates, Courtney Tuttle works on one of the high-flying routines during practice.
— image credit: Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times

Oak Harbor High School’s cheer team, always a major force in state competition, is taking a step up for the 2008/09 season.

Coach Pam Headridge said she has six boys out for the team and the Wildcats will be competing in the large co-ed division at the state championships this year.

“I don’t know where we got all the guys,” Headridge said. “I guess the girls talked them into it and I’m not complaining a bit.”

Male members of the team are senior Stephen Lewis and junior Josh Higbee, both of whom are varsity football players, freshman Jacob Moody, seniors Justin Pogacsas and DeJon Pruitt and junior Spencer Miller.

Lewis said he and Higbee decided to join the cheer team and “do it together” because it’s something new and fun to try out, and Pogacsas said the girls “talked” him into it.

Miller is a veteran member of the cheer team and was on the squad during the football season and Pruitt said this is his first year as a member of the team.

“I wanted to be on the team last year, but I was sick during tryouts,” he said.

The Wildcats were five-time defending state champions in the small co-ed division heading into last year’s competition and were in position to make it six straight, but a 10-point deduction by the judges for a mistake made during a routine cost them the title.

A Headridge-coached team is famous for it’s intricate stunts, and high flyers like Megan Rikard, Tracy Vessels and Courtney Tuttle, all of them juniors, play key roles in the routines.

“It’s really fun being a high flyer, you have to have a lot of trust in your teammates,” Tuttle said.

Vessels echoed Tuttle’s words about having fun. “Hard work and dedication pays off,” she added.

Headridge said she plans of having between 20 and 25 members on the team this season.

Oak Harbor has also made a name for itself in the national competition held annually in Anaheim, Calif., finishing in fourth place last year, but Headridge said she is not sure whether the Wildcats will be attending this year.

“I’m not sure about California, it’s very expensive and not all the kids can afford it,” she said. “It costs about $1,000 per team member and that is a lot of money. Some of our kids are having trouble just paying the school activity fees.”

This year, the competition season starts earlier than in years past and the state championships will be in late January rather than in March.

The Wildcats host the Oak Harbor Invitational at the high school today beginning at 11 a.m.

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