By Mathew Brock

Few sporting events would be complete without the presence of a roaring crowd, but sometimes it takes a little extra motivation to get somber spectators excited or lighten spirits when the home team is on the ropes.

That’s where the cheer team comes in. Clad in school colors and wielding pom poms, it’s all about bringing out the best from the stands by moving in sync and establishing a rhythm between plays.

Brookings-Harbor High School once had a strong tradition in cheer but interest in the program waned over the years. In the past, the team often competed at the state level and even won first place in the 2011 OSAA State Cheerleading Championship.

Now, those days of competitive glory are nothing but a fading memory. But a spark of interest and a new coach may soon revitalize the languishing program.

Last year, Coach Kendra Gonzales took the reigns of the cheer program and has begun building it back from the ground up. Though her team is young and inexperienced, Gonzales is taking things one step at a time. Her current goal is to instill the same values as any other school sport and work with other programs like band and leadership to support the school.

“They’re student athletes. It’s about being a team and being a good representative of your school,” said Gonzales “It gives kids another athletic venue if they aren’t a baseball or basketball player.”

Team member Ashanti Franks credits the cheer program for helping her keep her grades up and motivating her to success as a student.

“It puts me in a better mood. I can forget about any problems and just work to better myself,” said Franks. “I knew I needed something to push me a little more in school and I’ve been interested in cheer since I was little.”

The cheer team is most active during the football and basketball seasons, where they attend all home games and occasional road games. Spring is the program’s recruitment season with workouts and camp over the summer to prepare the team for the fall and winter sports seasons.

“It’s challenging because its a year-round sport and its possible to get really burned out,” said Gonzales. “A lot of it is mental and about having a positive attitude and a good work ethic.”

One of the main goals the team is working towards, returning to organized cheer competition, is still a distant benchmark for the team.

“Cheerleading competition involves a lot of stunting and tumbling. Right now we’re still working on a lot of basic skills. We’re just not there yet,” said Gonzales.

But Gonzales has had other things to keep the team busy during the year, such as the team’s Youth Cheer Camp last Saturday, where children up to eighth grade practiced with the team for a special halftime performance for Friday’s basketball game against the Marshfield Pirates.

You can see the Brooking-Harbor cheer team in action this Friday during the girls and boys basketball games, beginning at 6 p.m.

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