Ask Brooking-Harbor High School cheerleading coach Jennifer Willis about the performance of her squad this year and she beams with pride. Based on the results, she has good reason to.
In the three meets the Lady Bruins have competed in this past season they have triumphed in two of them, placing first at both the Southern Oregon Cheer Classic in Medford and the Sheldon Invitational at Sheldon High School.
Those victories have earned the squad an invitation to this weekend's OSAA/U.S. Bank/Les Schwab Tires Cheerleading State Championships at the Portland Memorial Coliseum.
"I'm really excited for us," exclaimed Willis during a recent practice. "The girls have worked so well together and worked so hard."
The girls face a tough test in the state championships, as 12 of the best schools from around the state will be competing for the prestigious 4A state title. Coach Willis is confident in her team's abilities even though the squad only returned five members from last year's team and added an astounding 15 new faces to this years roster.
"We practice at least four times a week, two to three hours per practice." Willis stated. "They go out of their way to do their best all the time."
What's most impressive is that the team has competed at such a high level, and attained so much success, without the assistance of traditional funding methods.
Going back nearly eight years, the Lady Bruins failed to finish in the top three in any competition a mere two times and won the 4A State Championship in 2011.
Yet the team's travel expenses, uniforms, and costs of maintaining the program have all come from private donations and fundraising events.
"I would like to say 'thank you' . You have provided an amazing experience for these girls," Willis stated in regards to her thoughts about her program's donors.
The Lady Bruins have repayed the efforts of the local community and the fundraisers by volunteering their time at local events like the Relay for Life and beach cleanups, as well as how they have conducted themselves at the various events they compete in. Coach Willis receives several emails from other coaches, complimenting her squad on how they carry themselves and represent their community.
She reads those emails to the team and tells them they are, "building a legacy and paving a path for other girls."
Much like she has done for them.