Wood River cheerleaders pose during July’s camp at Boise State University. Back, from left, Ana Poklemba, Daisy Vargas, Stephanie Murillo, Shannon Quigley, Dallas Wilson, Jazmin Carrillo, Anthonya Lizarraga, Samantha Rodriguez, Krystal Rodriguez and Victoria Brown. Front, from left, Karina Rangel, Braydan West, Adriana Perez, Jessica Richardson and Jasmine Schofield.
Blaine County public schools are less than two weeks away from opening their doors for classes for the 2012-13 year. Fall sport athletes are busy training and high school soccer games begin this week.
One group at Wood River has been training since March and working hard throughout the summer to help bring school spirit to the Wolverines and encourage spectators at football and basketball games.
That group is the Wood River High School cheerleaders coached for the eighth year by Amanda Ornelas, assisted by Amber Stapel and Jane Lopez.
The current 2012-13 group of cheerleaders had their tryouts in March. Ever since, it seems they’ve been going nonstop.
Head coach Ornelas said, “They are very dedicated to what they do and are working very hard to make the community stand up and take notice.”
In spring and summer, they met and practiced three days a week, for eight hours a week—learning cheers and dances that go with band music.
They don’t cheer for Wolverine sports games in the spring, but they performed at the Cinco de Mayo school assembly. They practiced stunting to develop athleticism, and worked with a coach to develop more advanced tumbling skills.
A big goal was preparing for the United Spirit Association’s summer camp at Boise State University from July 24-26. There, the Wood River cheerleaders were evaluated twice and earned superior plaques.
Besides the awards and accolades they earned in Boise, the Wood River cheerleaders earned the right to perform at the National Football League’s Pro Bowl from Jan. 24-28, 2013 in Hawaii. Wood River cheerleaders have made that trip twice before with coach Ornelas, in 2011 and 2004.
In addition, two Wood River cheerleaders tried out for All-American status during the BSU camp. A small percentage of the campers earned that distinction, but Karina Rangel and Braydan West did from Wood River. Rangel plans to attend the Rose Bowl New Year’s Day parade as part of her All-American opportunities.
Wood River’s cheerleaders also won first place in “Spirit” and “Hardest Working” at the Boise spirit camp.
Those achievements earned WRHS an invitation to perform at Capitol One Bowl in Orlando, Fla. Ornelas said, “But we are not going to try to attend that event. There is just too much going on.”
Here is Wood River’s cheerleading team:
( Seniors (12th grade): Jessica Richardson, Karina Rangel and mascot Taylinn Lake.
( Juniors: Adriana Perez, Anthonya Lizarraga, Krystal Rodriguez and Samantha Rodriguez.
( Sophomores: Anastasia Poklemba, Braydan West, Jasmine Schofield, Shannon Quigley, Stephanie Murillo, Victoria Brown and Dallas Wilson.
( Freshmen: Daisy Vargas and Jazmin Carrillo.
They make their first Hailey public appearance Friday, Sept. 14 at the first Wood River High varsity football game against Gooding at Phil Homer Field.
As part of that debut, the cheerleaders will conduct a youth cheerleading clinic for the entire week leading up to the Sept. 14 game, from 6-7 p.m. each weeknight. The kids taking part will perform at halftime and receive a t-shirt.
Ornelas is very busy herself as her cheer program has geared up in August to training four days and 10 hours a week.
The former Amanda Hedin, a 1998 Wood River High graduate, Ornelas works as executive officer for the Sun Valley Board of Realtors and has two children, five-year-old Alonzo and three-year-old Amaya.
During her days at Wood River, Amanda devoted four years to the cheer program including one year as mascot and one year on the dance team.
She oversees a smallish squad of 16, compared to bigger 4A schools that have as many as 24 students. When it comes to the Great Basin Conference district cheerleading competition in February, Ornelas said, “With a team as small as ours, it makes it hard to compete.”
Nevertheless Wood River qualified for further state competition in 2011, and placed second at state in 2008 and 1998.
Ornelas said, “We have a lot of talent on the team. They are more driven, and they genuinely care. And what they care about is increasing spirit in the school. They want to make people proud of Wood River.”
Cheerleaders understand their ambitious goals, like attending the BSU camp and going to Hawaii, need to be paid for. They do most of the fundraising themselves.
“It takes a lot of money to support what we do,” Ornelas said. “We’re talking about doing a special fundraiser for the Pro Bowl trip.”
They stage car washes and sell nail polishes and “Spirit Cups” with NFL logos. Coming up with a new idea this year, the cheerleaders are offering themed birthday parties where they come to a house and teach kids a cheer or a dance, in exchange for a donation.
Cheerleaders are accepting corporate sponsorships at Silver ($100 and more) and Green ($50 to $99) levels. In exchange for donations, businesses receive special attention appearing on banners and shirts.
Contact Ornelas at 309-2929 or email@example.com
Fundraiser Saturday in Bellevue
One other thing the cheerleaders have going on this week is a fundraising carnival and yard sale Saturday, Aug. 25 starting at 8:30 a.m. just south of the Atkinsons’ Valley Market in Bellevue. The event will continue through about 3 p.m.
They also do community service projects throughout the year, Ornelas said. For instance, the cheerleaders have started to paint all 680 fire hydrants in Hailey and will continue to chip away at the ambitious project.
For the last several years they’ve also done shopping for the Holiday Baskets program—hopping on a bus for a weekend in early December and heading south to shop for holiday gifts that go to needy families.
“They really enjoy doing that, and it’s great for the community,” Ornelas said.