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Cheering on the teams — and so much more

Local cheerleaders are 'a cheer community'


by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lakeridge High School cheerleaders jump into action during practice last week.Cheerleaders are a sports staple, shouting out athletes’ triumphs — and boosting morale when a team is in a tailspin.

And, since cheering was born in the late 19th century, it has transformed into an intense sport, incorporating elements of tumbling, stunts and dancing. Yet, cheer doesn’t always get the respect it deserves, although there’s one way to change doubters’ minds: “Invite them to practice,” said Christine Cooper, Lakeridge High School head cheerleading coach. by: REVIEW PHOTO: VERN UYETAKE - Lake Oswego High School varsity cheerleader Claudia Herrera is tossed up into the air by teammates.

In addition to games and competitions, cheerleaders at Lakeridge and Lake Oswego high schools do conditioning, practice routines and finesse tumbling skills for several hours each week in the fall and winter. Optional tumbling classes are March to mid-May, and tryouts take place in mid-May. Teams also work out during the summer and hold intensive practices during the two weeks before the school year kicks off.

Practice involves flipping, somersaulting and tossing a teammate into the air and catching her.

“We defy physics,” said Chelsea Boden, a Lakeridge High School senior and varsity cheerleader.

Before the cheerleaders perform aerial stunts, teammates must master the basics — and get to know each other, said Kenzie Campbell, a senior and one of three LOHS varsity cheer team captains.

“We build up that trust,” Campbell said.

Lakeridge varsity cheerleader Kendal Zumini-Fulton said being in cheer helped her forge relationships.

“I wouldn’t have these friends if I wasn’t in cheer,” said Zumini-Fulton, a senior.

Campbell said the two schools don’t have an intense rivalry between them as schools do on TV or in the movies. Before Civil War games, the teams have met for dinner, and they attended a stunt clinic together this summer.

“We’re a cheer community,” said Sydney Cottle, a senior and a varsity cheer team captain at LOHS.

Team members and coaches also are close. Terrie Sheik, head cheerleading coach at LOHS for about 12 years, said she has attended her team members’ weddings: “They become our daughters.”

Cooper, head coach since 2001, said she loves watching her team members learn something new.

“That’s the best is when they have the light bulb moment,” she said.

The local cheer teams have probably been here since around the time both schools began, Lake Oswego High School in 1951 and Lakeridge High School in 1971, according to both head coaches.

“In 1952, there was a rally squad (at LOHS), and it consisted of four girls and two boys,” Sheik said.

So, local cheerleaders have been supporting Lake Oswego athletes for decades.

“The opportunity to cheer for the teams that we have ... it’s just so much fun,” said Claudia Herrera, a senior and a varsity cheer team captain at LOHS.