This past summer, the Scio cheerleading team rallied to overcome the odds and won against teams from much larger schools to prove their mettle.
The squad competed with fourteen other groups in a week-long cheer camp held during July at Oregon State University. This was the first time the team had participated, and under the guidance of new coach JaAnna Mendez, Scio not only emerged with a spirit stick award and a trophy for “Most Improved Squad” but also an invitation to take part in the national championship competition.
At the end of the week, the two teams were given trophies for “Best Overall Performance” and received bids to vie for the national title in Dallas, Texas, to be held in January. Scio, with an enrollment of 233 students, was one of those schools along with Union High School from Camas, Washington, which has 2,500 pupils.
“Even though we were one of the smallest schools there, we showed what we could do,” Mendez said. “I’m really proud of them.”
The downside came when the team was not able to accept the invitation to nationals due to the lack of required paperwork to be eligible. It has, however, led to growth in the program.
“The school board wasn’t ready to commit when we first started,” Mendez. “They thought that little schools like ours didn’t do competitions. We now have the papers ready to present to the school board so that we can be qualified to compete.”
The Scio team will need to compete in two OSAA-sanctioned events before it is eligible to qualify for the state championships in February.
Meanwhile, Mendez, a former Jefferson High School cheerleader, has enjoyed growing the program.
“Stephen (Cate) moved at the beginning of the school year and is no longer with us but we have added another boy, Nathan Ireland, to take his place,” she said. “We have also added a foreign exchange student, Net Lelapong. There hasn’t been a steady full-time mascot in several years. This year we made it a full-time position (filled by Ethan Olson) and we also added a flag runner, Jeannie Wilson, who runs the flag back and forth after touchdowns.”
Mendez’s enthusiasm is shared by her team and others involved.
“This is my first year doing cheer,” said Zak Mance , a Scio HS junior and squad co-captain along with Shyanne Hysell and Macy Bodine.
“I thought camp was amazing and definitely one of the highlights of my summer … I absolutely loved it,” he said. “As far as competitions go, I am very confident in our team to compete at state level. I think that this is the kind of recognition we as a team and (I) as a male cheerleader need.”
Tom Meyer, whose granddaughters Skylar Medley (senior) and Courtney McUne (sophomore) are on the team, was impressed by the group’s performance thus far.
“They worked extremely hard to accomplish this task … (the national invitation) is a major accomplishment,” he said. “In the end, this is the first leg of the future for the cheerleader group from Scio High School to compete at any competition. This is a real David and Goliath story. Scio (David) beat many Goliaths and came out as one of the winners.”
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