Leaders on and off the field

Steamboat cheerleaders find teamwork is key to success

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— Steamboat's cheerleaders hope to see the crowds match their enthusiasm at the next home football game Friday night.

"I'm very concerned about them being leaders on and off the field," cheerleading coach Kathy Jones said.

She said a primary goal of the cheerleaders is to support the sports team while training for cheerleading competitions.

"I'm used to it being competitive but never did we not cheer our home team," Jones said.

She said in addition to cheering for the home team, the cheerleaders make posters and treats for a team before an away game.

Through the cheerleader's success in competitions, the team hopes to earn some respect from their hard work.

"We all know it is a sport people don't realize the work it takes," cheerleading captain Jessica Vernon said.

Jones said the cheerleading squad has four practices a week. Vernon and Kim Jones are the captains and lead the squad's practices.

Vernon said as a captain she is trying to motivate the rest of the girls to practice hard before the cheerleading competition in November.

She said they have practices in cheering, dancing and stunts to get ready to compete.

"Competition is the best part of the year," she said. "We get to kind of show off."

Vernon said cheerleading requires a lot of discipline and a good work ethic.

Kathy Jones said the importance of teamwork is reinforced constantly in practices.

"It's totally about being a team not one person gets all the glory," she said.

Jones said the stunts and cheers require a collaborative team effort.

Jones hopes to take the cheerleaders to the next level with her professional experience. She said the high school did not have a cheerleading team when she moved here with her family.

Jones started the cheerleading program three years ago and said all of the girls on the team returned this year except for four.

This year, Jones established a junior varsity and varsity squad.

She said the ninth-graders are working hard and being on the junior varsity team will give them the chance to develop their skills.

At a national cheerleading camp over the summer, two girls from Steamboat's squad were chosen as All-American cheerleaders.

Jones said she is extremely proud of Kim Jones, her daughter, and Jennifer Ostwalt.

Jones said it is neat to have her own daughter on the squad since she took her children to cheerleading events when they were growing up.

"I'm very excited to watch her do this," Kathy Jones said.

Vernon said her coach's 14 years of expertise has really helped shape up the team.

"It helps because she knows what she is talking about she has taken squads to the nationals," she said.

Vernon said cheerleading is not a school-funded sport so the team can only perform at home games.

"We were kind of disappointed," Vernon said. She said she would like the team to eventually be able to travel to away games.

Vernon said the team is constantly getting better and although she hoped for a bigger squad, not as many girls tried out this season.

Vernon said the teams' determination to win competitions and get a home crowd cheering is similar to their dedication to perform well academically.

Last year the cheerleading team won an award for having the highest grade-point average in the state.

Kathy Jones said she has stricter academic guidelines than the established requirement for school sports. She said she takes pride in recruiting students with good work ethics.

"They're really driven," she said.

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