Whidbey Island receives a double dose of national exposure when the Oak Harbor and Coupeville high school cheerleading teams compete in separation United States championships next month.
The Wildcats head to Dallas to participate in the National Cheerleaders Association finals Feb. 1 and 2.
The Wolves fly to Orlando for the Universal Cheerleaders Association national tournament Feb. 7-9.
In addition, Oak Harbor qualified for the Washington state championship tournament Feb. 7 and 8 at Battle Ground High School. The Wildcats finished fourth in the non-tumbling small division in 2019. Coupeville will skip the state finals to go to Orlando; last year the Wolves placed third in the small game-day division.
As well as putting in all the work to perfect their routines to qualify for the postseason, the Whidbey Island teams took on the challenge of raising funds to travel to their national competitions. Oak Harbor’s 14-person squad garnered $10,000. Coupeville’s 12-person team is still working to reach its goal of $15,000.
“We are so beyond thankful for the community support that we received,” Oak Harbor coach Jazmin Jones said.
“Right after our tryouts in May 2019, I sat down with the competition team to talk about the goals they had for the whole year,” Jones said. “Their goals for this year were to not only win our state competition but to qualify for nationals for the first time since 2012.
“They have put in so much hard work and dedication in order to make that dream come true, and I am so beyond proud to call myself their coach.”
Not only did Oak Harbor earn a national qualifying score at summer camp, they collected 14 other awards during their stay.
Oak Harbor faces nine other teams vying for the national title in the non-tumbling intermediate division in Dallas.
At state, Oak Harbor will square off against 11 other schools in the 3A/4A medium non-tumbling division.
The Wildcats enter the national and state competitions after a successful regular season. Oak Harbor finished first once and second three times in Northwest meets.
“We have since then changed all of our stunts to elite stunts in our routine in hopes of bringing home a national title and a state first-place win,” Jones said.
This Oak Harbor team is special, according to member Jada Jones.
“We all understand each other and know each other’s needs,” she said. “We know when someone needs a little space; we know when someone needs a shoulder to cry on. There is no drama.”
Audrey Moyes said, “We are really close to each other. We put in the work together to get the results we want. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”
Jada Jones added that coach Jones is a key to their success: “Coach has had a very big impact on the team. She knows how to deal with people and is very supportive.”
The coach likes how her team works to be the best they can be “inside and out.”
“No matter what comes their way, they always keep their heads high, staying positive and hopeful,” Jazmin Jones said. “I learn something new from them every day, and I know once they walk on to the nationals and state mat that they will do amazing.”
Those competing for Oak Harbor along with Moyes and Jada Jones are Alyssa Carlon, Morgan Roundy, Saitiz Ramirez, Chelsea Lonborg, Jordan Hempeck, Emily Stanek, Krystal Wyum, Asya Pressley, Annaliza Toliniu, Jacob Bevill, Griffin Stein, Haley Thompson, Melany Alanis, Angel Branzuela and Francisca Bartlett.
The UCA requires teams to earn national qualifying scores during competition, which starts in November. The Wolves won a regional meet Nov. 2 and learned Dec. 18 they earned enough points to receive a national bid.
Coupeville qualified for nationals only once before, in 2006.
Coach BreAnna Boone took over the Coupeville program last year and reintroduced competitive cheer. She helped the Wolves rise quickly in the sport, placing at state in their first year and qualifying for national meet in their second.
Getting the national bid was “a big shock to us all,” Boone said.
Earning the national spot last month didn’t leave the team much time to secure funds for the trip.
“We have been standing outside the grocery stores almost every single day and doing everything we can think of on the weekends,” Boone said. “I only have 12 kids on my team, and eight of those are seniors. I’m just trying to do everything in my power to make this happen for these kids.”
Boone wants her squad to experience what she felt as a member of Oak Harbor’s 2006 national championship team.
“The whole squad has worked harder than any kids I have seen in my 11 years of coaching,” Boone said.
“Being born and raised on this small, little island and watching the whole community come together to support these kids has been amazing,” she said. “We cannot thank everyone enough for their support.”
The Wolves will hold their next fundraiser, a spaghetti feed, from 5-8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at the Rolling Hills Clubhouse.
The Coupeville squad includes seniors Mica Shipley, Marenna Rebischke-Smith, Ja’Tarya Hoskins, Ella Caldwell, Ashleigh Battaglia, Dawson Houston, Gavin St. Onge and Melia Welling; juniors Coral Caveness, Edith Mirelis and Emily Fielder; and sophomore Bella Velasco.