Two Oak Harbor High School cheerleaders represented Whidbey at the Citrus Bowl in Orlando, Fla. New Year’s Day, where they performed alongside other All-American cheerleaders from across the country.
Junior Cassidy Gore and sophomore Ava Vallencourt are both varsity and competitive cheer squad members. They were both invited to participate in the bowl’s pregame show after qualifying as All-Americans.
“It was fun, exciting and maybe a little scary performing in front of 40,000 people,” said Vallencourt, who has been cheering for two years.
The athletes spent a week in Florida for rehearsals leading up to the game.
Gore, who is in her third year cheering, enjoyed the opportunity to connect with other cheerleaders.
“It was cool meeting other people from all around the United States with the same interests I have,” Gore said. “I was surprised there were other athletes from Washington that didn’t know where Whidbey Island was.”
To become an All-American is a big accomplishment in the cheer world; the students had to demonstrate superb skill in dance, cheer, tumbling and jumps while executing sharp movements and maintaining enthusiasm in their performance.
Cheer coach Crystal Cruz praised the pair for their dedication, skill and ability to take constructive criticism well.
“Ava and Cassidy are two phenomenal athletes who push themselves day in and day out, on and off the mat,” Cruz said. “They are highly spirited, strong, strive in student academics, always ready to lend a helping hand and great friends to their teammates.”