Cheerleading is a sport that has two, very unique, faces. It very much resembles the two masks of theater - Melpomene (Tragedy) and Thalia (Comedy).

Like Thalia, the cheerleaders are constantly putting on a happy face, leading fans in chants and getting the crowd excited about a game that may not always be that exciting.

The other mask cheerleaders wear is that of a fierce and dedicated competitor, trying to out-lift, out-throw, out-tumble, and yes, out-cheer other squads from around the state of Oregon.

Balancing the two extremes can be very difficult, according to Brookings-Harbor High School's cheerleading coach Jennifer Willis.

"We practice about 10 months out of the year," Willis said of the team's practice schedule. "We start in late April and run until mid-February or March."

The team members spend most of the summer learning and memorizing chants so that they can focus on preparing for the competition season, according to Willis.

The Bruins have five seniors on this season's squad and the remainder of the team's 20 members are juniors, sophomores and freshmen.

Despite have 25 percent of the squad as seniors the team is still relatively young, Willis said.

"Last year we had a really young team, a lot of first-years," she said. "This year a lot of those girls have come back - second-years - and we hope to improve on our record, go out and be competitive and qualify for state."

One of the second-years, senior Kendra Graham, is one of the team's captains and is looking forward to doing the best she can.

"Competition season is what we're practicing for right now," she explained. "We train all year for competition season so we can do really well at state. I think we have a good chance to win state because our team is really skilled, we enjoy what we do and we're going to go out there and try our hardest."

Fellow senior Cristina Muandntilde;oz is in her first year as a cheerleader and decided to come out for the team so that she wouldn't just sit around the house and be lazy after finishing her final soccer season as a Bruin.

"It's been really good," she said. "It's hard, but I'm working my way through and I'm excited to see how far we can get."

And, while the cheerleading squad pours all its physical efforts into learning stunts - including throwing teammates 10 to 15 feet in the air and then catching them - and a floor routine, they are also putting on a happy face and brewing Bruin pride into a veritable frenzy at home basketball games.

"We've got our first home game coming up soon," Willis said. "The girls are working really hard to go out there and make it happen so the crowd doesn't just fizzle."

Fundraising for travel

The cheer squad is responsible for most of their travel fund requirements and holds a number of fundraisers throughout the season, including a cheer camp.

"Becoming a Bruin" cheerleading camp will start Thursday afternoon at 3:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.

The camp costs $35 and is open to all youth kindergarten through fifth grade and registration can be done through a cheerleader or on the first day of the camp. The children will practice three times, learning a cheer and then perform at the home basketball game on Tuesday, Dec. 17. Any questions should be directed to Jennifer Willis at 541-254-4256.