By Josh Bronson
Pilot staff writer
It's something cheerleaders rely on.
But as the Brookings-Harbor High School cheerleaders found out last week, flexibility pertains to more than just their bodies.
Wednesday morning was the beginning of four days of chaos for the cheerleaders, their coaches and a few of their parents.
With the boys' basketball team making it to the state tournament, the cheerleaders wanted to be able to support the team that they cheered for all season long.
But school funding was a little short and wouldn't be able to send the girls.
"We had been told that we wouldn't be going to the games because the school couldn't pay for a bus for us," said Head Coach Corinne Crochet. "There was no option for us to go. The girls were really bummed."
And that's when things started to get interesting for Crochet and her team.
"I told the girls that they had half an hour to run home, grab their uniforms and get back to the high school," said Crochet. "And if they had parents who could drive us up there, I told them to bring them too."
And so it started.
With no plan and only $100 cash for dinner, donated by Tidewater Contractors, Inc., the girls left for Corvallis.
The first car of cheerleaders arrived just as the game began Wednesday night, with the other members of the team arriving at intervals within the first quarter of play.
After the game, the cheerleaders had planned on driving all the way home to get organized and practice one more time before their big competition Saturday in Portland.
"We had to go home," said Crochet. "All they had was their uniform in their bag and yesterday's school clothes."
The boys had another game in the morning that the team wanted to stay and cheer for, but they had no place to stay.
Solution: Chetco Federal Credit Union paid for their hotel room so the girls could cheer the next game.
But the girls still didn't have an extra change of clothes or money to make it until Saturday's competition.
That's when word started to get around that the cheerleaders needed some help.
It started on KURY radio with a challenge to the community to step up and help the cheerleaders stay in the area.
"The community ended up raising around $1500 for us that paid for two nights in a hotel, our meals and gas for the parents who were driving us around," said Crochet.
Throughout their stay up north, money continued to trickle in from the community.
A parent who was on the way up to the competition, left a day early to bring a change of clothes and some more money to the girls while they were still staying in Albany.
But help didn't just come from the Brookings' community.
"A church in Albany opened their doors for us and let us practice on Thursday and Friday," said Crochet.
Even Subway and Red Robin aided in the effort and gave the girls discounts on their meals.
On Saturday, after winging it for three straight days, the girls competed in the St. Paddy's Open National Cheer and Dance Championships in Portland.
But the surprises didn't stop for the cheerleaders once they hit Portland.
"The night before the event, one of the other schools in the medium varsity division dropped out and we got moved up to the large varsity division," said Crochet.
The large varsity is comprised of teams with 22 or more members on the team.
The Bruins have 17.
"I didn't think it was fair that we would be competing against teams that were so much larger than us," said Crochet. "I made the girls stay in the back and didn't let them watch the other teams perform so the wouldn't be intimidated."
And they weren't.
"All of a sudden, I realized that I was the only one who was nervous and that they just wanted to get out there and get it done," said Crochet. "They went out there and absolutely nailed it."
There was one more surprise waiting for the Bruins at the end of the day: a first place trophy.
"I knew we were good, but I didn't know we were that good," said Crochet.
In their first ever competition, the BHHS cheerleaders beat out a pair of much larger teams who had just competed at the Washington state championships.
And to top it off, the girls also received the People's Choice Award as voted on by the crowd.
"We couldn't have asked for anything more perfect for the end of the season than this," said Crochet. "This team did a complete 360 from where they started at the beginning of the year. They're an absolutely brand new team."
But they couldn't have done it without the love and support of the town they call home.
"We struggled all year and thought we never got a whole lot of support or respect," said Crochet. "But the girls were ecstatic to know that the community cared so much."
Crochet, along with assistant coach Robin LaThorpe and the entire cheerleading team would like to thank the following people for their help: KURY radio, Tidewater, CFCU, Evergreen Federal, Bernie Bishop Mazda, Bart and Val Kast, Naomi Kast, Kerr's Ace Hardware, Abba Heating and Air, Brookings Electronic Service, Premier Properties, Turner Building and Construction, Zia Dream Homes, Boogie Board Bagels, Harell Electric, Chetco Pharmacy, Ernie and Renee Hinze, Twila Duvall, Michelle and Rick Tidwell, Debbie Donahue and anonymous donations.