Mixed spirits

Cheer members brace the foot of team member, Sophomore Carolyn Schuetz,14, from Central Kitsap, as she is lifted into the air. - Photo by Jesse Beals
Cheer members brace the foot of team member, Sophomore Carolyn Schuetz,14, from Central Kitsap, as she is lifted into the air.
— image credit: Photo by Jesse Beals

In the sport of cheerleading, absolute trust is needed to make sure every stunt goes off safely and flawlessly.

That trust is easy to build on when you’re working with your teammates who you’ve been with for months.

But when you are trying to build trust with a group of relative strangers who are supposed to hold you six feet above the ground by only one foot and an ankle — that’s completely different as 35 cheerleaders from Central Kitsap and Olympic high schools are finding out this week.

For the second-straight year the Trojans and the Cougars are combining their cheer forces to perform during the third quarter of Friday night’s Battle of Bucklin Hill, an idea proposed in 2002 by CK cheer coach Jamie Cotton.

“We’ve got this big rivalry and the Battle of Bucklin Hill, so how cool would it be to see these two squads do something that’s never been done before?” Cotton said. “It’s just an idea that’s taken off because both schools want to represent how good the district is.”

It was an easy sell to the kids who often practice together and even attended the same cheer camp last summer.

“It was really fun last year spending the time with Oly,” CK cheer captain Meghan Granito said. “It was a good tradition to start and I’m glad we’re doing it this year.”

“It’s fun to work with a different squad,” Oly senior Jenn Wren said. “It was an experimental idea last year to see if it would work.”

In 2002, the teams did a cheer and a dance during the halftime show. Due to this year’s game also being Olympic’s Homecoming and all the pagentry that goes on at halftime the decision was made to move the show, which is now a single cheer with plenty of stunts, to the third quarter when the Oly band is on break.

“We’re simplifying it so it’s just a cheer with more stunting and show off our skills,” Oly senior Shannon McKinley said, noting the two teams will stay on their separate sidelines rooting for their own teams for most of the game.

And there are skills aplenty to show off. The Trojans finished first in last years state competition for large squads and the Cougars took third at state in the small squad division. They just need the weather to cooperate for the full show to go off.

“It won’t work if it rains because we can’t stunt,” Oly coach Kristie Freeman said. “So we’ll do the same cheer without the stunts — more ground-oriented, everybody-get-a-pose thing.”

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