ABERDEEN — They’ll be the team beat at District competition this weekend, but the Aberdeen cheer team will be prepared.
Coach Chana Duffin said the 12-member team practices five days a week and performs at all athletic events.
The all-girl team in comprised of April Beck, the team’s captain, co-captain Kamille Foster, Aspen Poulson, and Ashely Corbridge, all seniors, and juniors Sophia Duffin, Lexie Lehman, Breanna Duffin and Hazel Pratt, sophomore Sasha Pocock, and freshmen Karlene Foster, Isabelle Beck and Shelbie Anderson.
“We’re open to the possibility of boys joining the team, we’ll see what happens next year,” Duffin said. “But we have such strong and committed girls, we like what we’ve got going on now.”
Duffin said she learned a lot about the sport of cheer from the team’s senior cheerleaders.
“Our seniors are very knowledgeable about the sport,” Duffin said. “They know all the rules and know what the judges are looking for.”
The girls took first place honors in stunt, sideline, pom and show cheer categories during the Idaho Classic and Cupid’s Challenge hosted by Highland High School last weekend.
The girls are tough to beat because they exemplify the idea of teamwork.
“We have one rule, we are a team and we are all treated equally, grade and age doesn’t matter here,” Duffin said.
The four juniors on the team have cheered together since they were just 5 years old.
“They are best friends, they went to kiddie cheer camps together and were in tumbling together and they always wanted to be cheerleaders,” Duffin said. “Our freshman came in and had to immediately step it up to varsity level and they did.”
The cheerleaders try out for the team and are selected by an independent panel of judges.
“It’s all based strictly on their ability,” Duffin said. Duffin coaches the team along with her cousin, Chris Duffin, and Lauri Lehman.
The Aberdeen cheer squad started learning its routines in July and practiced twice a week until classes started. Lehman said each year the bar is raised for the stunt portion of the competitions.
“They scared me to death at the beginning of the year,” Lehman said. “There’s a lot more to it than just catching, they really have to know a lot.”
Duffin agreed, but said the coaches do everything possible to keep the cheerleaders safe. The team just bought seven thick, padded practice mats and spotters are always standing by when the team rehearses the stunt routines.
The team pays $250 for each competition and raises money for the events through the annual sales of a school athletics calendar.
This year, Duffin’s husband, Jeff Duffin, and his brother, Ray Duffin, got involved in the fundraising effort as well. They got local farmers to donate a truck full of potatoes and then sold the spuds to raise money for the team.
In spite of their recent success, Duffin said the team is not taking anything for granted and they’ll continue to prepare for district competitions Saturday.
“We know there will be some tough competition,” Duffin said. “Our district is tough.”