Anyone who doubts that cheer is as much an athletic endeavor as any other varsity sport need only visit the Bonners Ferry High School cheer team and watch them work on their routines. As cheer has evolved into a recognized sport over the past decades, the flexibility, strength and agility of these young ladies is more akin to the controlled power of modern dance than the "rah-rah-sis-boom-bah" of the cheerleaders of generations past.
This past July, the 16 member cheer squad, under the direction of Christa Rice assisted by Tina Jantz, traveled to Eastern Washington University to participate in the Universal Cheerleading Association (UCA) Camp and Competition.
Badger Cheerleaders Bring All American Honors Back To Boundary County.
Throughout the four days of extraordinarily rigorous activity, during which they learned, in Christa's words, "a ton of material" and were schooled in all aspects of the sport of cheerleading such as drum lines, cheer/performance routines, verbal cheering, dancing and elite stunts, the squad was evaluated on a daily basis for both their progress as a team and as individuals by college level cheerleaders.
At the end of the four-day camp, the Bonners Ferry Badger Cheerleaders earned the title of "All American Squad" from a field of literally hundreds of competitive cheer teams, some of whom brought cheer squads of over 30 girls.
"In order to get All American, the team must consistently put out the epitome of what a cheerleader is," said Christa. "To earn All American, the team must not only be good at competition but judged superior in other areas such as teamwork, sportsmanship and attitude. Over the four days, their confidence grew and grew. At the end of camp, it was impossible to tell the difference between these girls from a small town in North Idaho and the North West Elite team."
A BFHS cheerleader of the Class of 1993 herself, Christa knows firsthand the kind of intense dedication and desire to serve the athletics teams and community of Bonners Ferry.
"Our job is to get the community and spectators to support the team," she emphasized. "When the squad is cheering, they understand that they have a job to do for four hours. They want to get the crowd involved and supportive of the players. The team may not always win but we want to continue that positive attitude all season long. Cheerleaders have to be smart as well as athletic- these girls memorized and had to be able to perform 35 cheers in a week not to mention be able to perform Level 3 elite aerial stunts. These are stunts where a girl could get seriously hurt. Their grades as a whole are phenomenal. They are only required to have a 2.0 GPA but this team has nothing lower than a 3.0. They strive to earn respect from the student body. Each girl spends a minimum of 20 hours per week on cheer so they have to be absolutely committed to their sport and to what they do for the teams. The girls learn so many life skills in cheer that will stay with them throughout their whole lives."
As winners of the All American title, the Badger cheerleaders have earned the right and privilege to perform at the Capitol One Bowl during half-time. The Capitol One Bowl is a post-season college football game held on January 1 in Orlando, FL and is televised nationally on ABC. Unfortunately, because the Badger Cheer Squad is not funded by Boundary County School District #101, even though they won the All American Title, Christa said that the cost of sending the squad to Florida is prohibitive and they will not be able to attend the event.