I called Peninsula High School cheerleading coach Kathy Crowley, hoping her team might be practicing, and I was in luck. The girls, freshmen through seniors, welcomed me.
“For the past eight days, cheerleaders have been perfecting their cheers, chants, band dances and assembly routines in two-a-day practice sessions,” Crowley said. “Some time is for making posters for upcoming games and assemblies. The plan is to cover the gym walls with posters for the first day of school and the annual Fish Bowl (football game) with Gig Harbor. The team is doing an awesome job.”
The gym floor was awash with posters, some completed, many being worked on. It was impressive.
Senior Halley Adams has been with the cheerleaders for all four years of her high school career.
“Being part of this team is an amazing way to stay involved with our community,” she said.
“Cheer isn’t like any sport I’ve done before; we are all like sisters,” sophomore Allie Wojtanowicz said.
Classmate Sara Unden said it’s a great way to support her school and to make a lot of friends.
Aside from supporting teams at Peninsula, the cheerleaders help at other organizations’ fundraisers, such as Micah’s Run, Race for the Cure, Race for a Soldier and others. They also compete at local and state levels and have their eyes on going to a national competition in California.
Senior Katie Barry loves “the energy level and positivity we create and bring to fans.”
Senior Sammie Richards said cheerleading isn’t just a sport, it’s a lifestyle.
“We love what we do, because we see the difference we’ve made and strength we’ve installed in each other,” Richards said.
Brianna Moore decided to do cheerleading during her senior year for a new challenge.
“I’m fond of the sport and love the family feel, being with these girls 24/7,” she said.
Crowley said being a Peninsula High cheerleader isn’t easy.
“You have to be in good health, catch on quickly to material, be willing to be in front of your peers, be a team player, be selfless, be loyal and have good grades,” she said. “Everything we do, from practice, games and community service, we are busy; there is little time left.”
For five years, the girls have maintained a cumulative 3.5 grade-point average or higher. Two years ago, they placed second in the academic state championships.
“We were edged out by 0.05,” Crowley said, “and that is with many of the cheerleaders in Advance Placement classes and/or Running Start classes at (Tacoma Community College).”
Junior Kaytlynne Murphy is proud to be a member of the squad.
Classmate Olivia Taylor said she tried playing every sport but never ended up enjoying any of them.
“I can honestly say cheer is the one sport I really enjoy,” Taylor said. “I didn’t just join a team, I joined a family.”
Freshman Tiffany Howe wanted to be a cheerleader since she was a little girl.
“I love to represent my school in a positive way,” she said. “It keeps me active.”
Freshman Caroleann Tiedeman thinks it’s a great way to be a part of the school and support all activities. Freshman Kelly Shirley loves being able to meet new people.
Alumni have gone on to great careers, Crowley said.
“Peninsula cheer has a lawyer, several nurses, teachers, medical assistants and a couple of flight attendants, among others,” she said.
Sophomore Destinie Miner wants to be a role model for her school.
“I’ve learned how much work and dedication cheer takes,” she said. “It’s not all smiles and standing on the sidelines.”
Classmate Cheyenne Holland loves being a bigger part of the school, supporting other students and being able to perform in front of them.
“Cheer pushes me to my limits and to achieve goals,” Holland said.
Sophomore Kaylee Jones loves “the rush of competing, or even just being in front of everyone cheering on my team.”
Sophomore Morgan Blalock, a cheerleader for six years, said: “You need skill and determination and a passion for your school.”
Junior Christine Rasmussen loves knowing there are little girls who look up to her.
“I live for every Friday night,” she said.
Classmate Ashley Bluhm wanted to be a cheerleader since she was a little girl.
“Energy is so high in this sport,” she said. “I love being considered a leader, the greatest honor I could want.”
Junior Maddie McGill loves the thrill of leading her school.
“I am excited to pump up the crowd and make everyone’s high school experience better than they thought it would be,” she said.
For more information about the team or how to try out, email Crowley at email@example.com.Hugh McMillan is a longtime freelance writer for The Peninsula Gateway. He can be reached at 253-884-3319 or by email at hmcmnp1000@ centurytel.net.