Feb. 12, 2020 — “What’s special is that we show skills throughout all of our team,” Siuslaw cheerleading coach Teri Straley said about her team. “We don’t use the same flyer for every routine. I’m putting short bases with tall bases, because that’s what I have to do. I show a little bit more variety of the skills that my team can do.
“I think that’s special.”
It’s those skills that the Vikings will be showing off this Saturday as the cheer squad travels to Veterans Memorial Coliseum in Portland for state competition, a brutal tournament where the Siuslaw cheer team will have only shot — and just 2 minutes, 15 seconds — to impress the judges.
“Competition can be hectic,” said Straley, who explained that teams have to be in Portland by 9 a.m. if they’re not performing first.
From there, teams have photos taken with the official OSAA photographer and officially check in. There will be some time on the practice floor to run through the routine and make final blocking changes for spacing, practice stunts and lifts, and work out any jitters.
“Then we get pulled aside to be on deck for the team before us. After that, we go out and perform.”
And that performance will be make-or-break for the Vikings.
“We just get one shot with the routine,” Straley said. “We don’t get a second chance to bring up our scores. What they do on the mat is everything, so they know to just go out there and cheer and dance and stunt their hearts out.”
The pressure is going to be high for the team which, due to an unfortunate set of circumstances, is only going to be competing with six girls — which meant reworking the routine at the last minute. Still, Straley said she and the team are confident that they’ll show well at state.
“The girls said on Saturday that they’re small but powerful,” Straley said. “It’s true. They feel good.”
Getting to this point has been challenging for the cheer team, which has had to find a balance between obligations to the school and a desire to work on their own routines for state.
“We’ve done a lot,” Straley said. “They handle a little bit more pressure because they handle cheering at games and their own competitions.”
During the fall season, the girls cheered at every football game, both at home and as far away as Grants Pass. Then there’s the basketball games — nine nights total for 18 games (boys and girls) throughout the winter season. This has been difficult for the squad since its state routine is entirely different from what is performed at games.
“The girls want to work on their state routine, but they also know they have an obligation to basketball and football and need to focus on those too,” said Straley.
That dichotomy has also put stress on the amount of competitions that the cheer team has been able to participate in. To compete in state, teams have to enter two qualifying tournaments, many of which are held during the football season.
“I laid off going to those so we could focus on football and our routine a little bit,” Strealy said. “Once winter season hit, we would do an hour of practice for basketball one day and then the rest of the days were for our state routine.”
The hectic schedule can also have the girls facing some hard choices and late nights, as a few participate in dual sports.
I’ve got Gillian [Norton] doing basketball as well as cheer, and she’s making it to as many practices as she can so she can learn all the new things,” Straley said. “She catches on really fast.”
Then there’s Arrianna Brown, who does both cheer and wrestling.
“Last week, she had to make a tough choice between regionals for wrestling and a chance to compete at state, or go to our last cheer competition,” Straley said. “She chose cheer over wrestling. I told her that if she comes back next year, I will make