Headridge retires pom-poms, sort of

Coach Headridge explains the rules to prospective cheerleaders at an early-season practice session. - Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times
Coach Headridge explains the rules to prospective cheerleaders at an early-season practice session.
— image credit: Tim Adams/Whidbey News-Times

Coaching for 18 years is a long time, no matter what sport a person is involved in.

These days, coaching any sport is a year-round proposition and no person works harder at her profession than Oak Harbor cheer coach Pam Headridge.

After 18 years, two national titles and five state championships, the silver-haired mentor of the purple and gold team is retiring.

A Maryland native, Headridge has lived on Whidbey Island for 30 or so years and like many people, she has the military to thank for bringing her to the island.

“My husband was stationed at NAS Whidbey Island and that’s how I got here,” she said.

With a smile, Headridge said she sort of came from a cheerleading background.

“I was a cheerleader when I attended Howard High School in Ellicott

City, Maryland, and then I went to Frostburg State University, which is also in Maryland, and I was a cheerleader there,” she said.

Headridge said she had never been a cheer coach before taking the position at Oak Harbor, but she had been a fitness instructor after college.

“I started coaching cheerleading when my daughter was a junior at Oak Harbor High School. That was back in, I don’t know, 1990 or somewhere around that time,” she said with another smile.

Headridge explained that back then, there was just a middle school and a high school in Oak Harbor.

“My daughter attended North Whidbey Middle School and was a cheerleader there, and when she got to the high school as a sophomore, she couldn’t try out for the cheer team because it was

just for juniors and seniors,” she said.

At that time, Headridge said the cheer program was a “disaster,” the cheerleaders fought with one another and they didn’t do very much other than stand on the sidelines at games.

“My daughter asked me if I wanted to be the coach and I took the program over when she was a junior, and I’m still here,” she said.

Since becoming the mentor, the Wildcats were named the Class 4A National Team of the Year in 1999 and won the Class 4A Co-ed National Championship in 2006.

In between, Oak Harbor was won five state titles and finished among the top seven teams in the nation several times.

Coaching championship teams is not Headridge’s only involvement in the sport.

“I am currently the vice-president of the Washington state

Cheerleading Coaches Association that is based in Seattle and I was the original founder of the organization,” she said.

Headridge is also a published author of two books on cheerleading, one on developing a successful cheerleading program and the other one on 101 school spirit ideas.

“I also have eight cheerleading videos on the market,” she said.

Headridge said she does not have one particular fond memory of her career, but rather the greatest thrill is the success her cheerleaders have had after they graduate.

Her retirement days aren’t going to consist of sitting at home and doing gardening.

“I will be involved with cheerleading across the country and I plan on traveling and doing a lot of speaking engagements,” she said.

“Also, I’ll continue with the coaches association and will be working with the Washington Interscholastic Activities Association as well.”

She also has plans to write another book.

At the Oak Harbor boys final home basketball game Wednesday evening, the cheer squad gave a farewell to their coach the best way possible — presenting her with a bouquet of flowers and preforming one of its thrilling, crowd-pleasing routines at halftime.

What a way to end a coaching career.

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