There’s somewhat of a preconceived notion that high school cheerleaders just put on cute uniforms, make themselves pretty and show up to all the games. But after talking to Bonners Ferry High School cheer coach, Sarah Jenkins, that notion gets thrown right out the window!
With 14 girls on this year’s squad, she has her hands full keeping up with them as their days are filled with school, homework, practices, cheering and any extracurricular activities they participate in. Managing a cheer team is a lot of work, but Sarah enjoys all of it. “I chose to be a cheer coach because we had just returned to Bonners Ferry, and being a BFHS cheerleader in high school, I thought it was a great way to become part of the community,” said Sarah. This year, she has help; former BFHS dance team member, Kayla Hawks, is helping out as her assistant coach.
Cheer season begins on July 1 with voluntary practices. In August, they start two-a-day practices, with mandatory attendance at the 6:30am practice. During fair week, the team volunteers in the dining hall for the Badger Boosters. Once school is in session, the girls practice Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 4:30 to 6pm, with games every Friday. They also cheer at any extra home games, usually scheduled on Tuesdays or Thursdays. Last year, they performed at 27 games.
Several of the girls are in Leadership and National Honor Society. Nearly all of the senior girls are taking college classes in addition to their typical high school studies. “I am so proud of how hard [all of our girls] work throughout the year to cheer on their fellow classmates, all the while keeping their grades above the expected minimum,” said Sarah. Now two-and-a-half seasons in, she feels this will be their best year as there is a strong number of experienced cheerleaders to help build the team’s skill levels even higher.
Once winter rolls around, the cheer team is at all home basketball games, wrestling matches and as many away games as they can make it to—all the while practicing for their own competitions. Last year, the team took first in Pom at Districts, earning a trip to the state competition. Thirty minutes before their state performance, they found that the scoring requirements had been changed, and they didn’t qualify to place. They went on to put on a perfect performance, and Sarah said they’ll be ready next year.
When asked what makes her most proud of her squad, Sarah replied, “My favorite part of coaching is seeing the girls grow together as a team and the excitement on their faces when they nail their routine at competition. It gives me chills, even makes me cry. It makes me so happy to see them succeed.”
Another part of the cheer team’s busy schedule is fundraising and volunteering. Fundraising monies are used to help offset the costs for new uniforms, tumbling mats for practices and any other needs the team might have. This past May, the squad held a day-long car wash in the Columbia Bank parking lot; their efforts paid off as the team raised $750.
Currently they are selling Little Caesar’s Pizza Kits for $21 to $25, depending on the toppings. Order online at PizzaKit.com and use group number 337605 before September 28, and the girls will deliver the kits after they arrive on October 7.
They also have rally scarves available for $5; the material was donated by Margaret Mellett, owner of Alley Fabric Nook, and assembled by a team member’s mother, Stephanie Sims. In blue, white and gray fleece, these scarves represent school colors and can be used to wave when the home team scores.
The biggest fundraiser that the cheer squad holds is the semi-formal Winter Dance; this gives their fellow BFHS classmates a great reason to dress up and socialize in the middle of winter. The girls sell tickets, do the decorating, gather refreshment donations from local businesses and take care of all the details to make it a memorable event.
The team also loves to be actively involved in their community. In years past, they've hosted day-long Cheer Camps for elementary grade students; camp students then perform at that night’s football game. The BFHS dance team is hosting this year’s camp due to a shortage of home football games, but the cheer squad plans to resume it next year. The cheerleaders also volunteer in the Badger Boosters’ food booth at the Pack Rat’s Holiday Vintage Sale. In addition, they share their Badger pride in most community parades, leading the way in team spirit, especially during the Homecoming Parade.
The cheer team appreciates the support they receive back from the community. Sarah gives credit to Pro-X Building Supply for donating materials for cheer boxes, Brad and Kelly Navarro for building the boxes, and Vinyl Expressions for lettering to decorate with after the cheer team painted the boxes. Safeway and Super One generously donate refreshments for the Winter Formal. And the support they appreciate the most? Having all the fans in the stands helping them cheer on their beloved BFHS teams.