Plenty to cheer about

SHS cheer squad members share insights about their team


Sequim Gazette


As football season rolls out, another team has been going strong all summer too — Sequim High School’s cheer squad.

At 29 athletes strong for varsity and junior varsity, the girls have been training and prepping routines since practices began in June.

“We want to be ready for the football season,” varsity coach Julie Romberg, a 2007 SHS grad and former cheerleader, said.

They’ll work together to learn cheers and dances that are 45 seconds to 1 minute long while slowly incorporating stunts.

“Safety is first,” Romberg said. “We focus on perfection first and then progression. There’s a process.”

She and junior varsity coach Kim King are both stunt-certified to ensure the girls’ safety.

The varsity squad learns about a dozen sideline dances for games and performs unique dances at school assemblies through the school year.

Some of the girls are in the school’s band and help coordinate with band director Vern Fosket about routines and music for games, King said.

Their schedules are about as rigorous as the teams they cheer on, too, with varsity traveling rain or shine to all of the football games while the JV goes to Port Angeles and home games.

For the winter, they’ll support most of the basketball home games for boys and girls and will travel for the teams’ playoff games.

In the spring, the cheer team takes a break until tryouts but they participate in multiple community service events year-round like the Back 2 School Family Fun Run, Walk for Alzheimer’s and they host a cheer camp in January.

“The girls are honor students, fellow athletes, Link leaders, leadership students and among some of the most committed to the community,” Romberg said.

Cheer commitment

King said the girls share a passion for cheering and the climate among the team is like a family.

“(Cheer) gives the girls confidence and self-esteem,” she said.

At an assembly this year, Romberg said some former teammates showed up to see the team dance.

“They cried because they wanted to be a part of it,” she said.

Sequim cheerleaders come from backgrounds in cheering to no experience at all though.

Team co-captain Morgan King has been cheering since she was 4 while co-captain Alysha Graham began as a freshman and was unsure if she really wanted to be a cheerleader.

“Before I came into high school, I figured no one knew who I am, so I figured I’d try it,” Alysha said. “I was kind of a tomboy and I ended up really liking it.”

Morgan said cheer is an opportunity for girls who like to be involved and to meet new people.

“You never know what you’ll think,” Alysha said. “I never pictured myself here but it’s a blast.”

Alysha and Morgan are two of six seniors on the squad including Allie Bean, Andrea Kienholz, Kyla Rigg and Amanda Sanders.

Romberg said most girls spend one to two years on JV starting as freshmen to build up experience and the varsity and JV teams vote for their captains who help pick dances and with fundraisers.

Previously, entering high school was the only local opportunity to cheer at length until the Wolf Pack organization started a cheer program two years ago.

Many of the girls are coming into high school though with little to no experience, Kim King said.

This year, the team is spread out among the grade levels, which Morgan said shows how each grade level is really involved.

Sequim’s support for the cheer squad is high, too, the girls say.

“Our school really supports us,” Morgan said. “We have a good spirit section and they tend to wear their colors according to their grade. Everything I hear is really positive.”

Teammates said they’ve heard horror stories at camps and events from other cheerleaders that some audience members will boo and/or throw food and drinks at them.

“We’re treated well here,” Kim King said.

Romberg said she attributes that to the girls’ commitments to school and other extracurricular activities.

Competitive cheer

Sequim cheer last participated in competitions in 2014 but due to costs and the time commitment, the team has focused on routines for games and assemblies.

“We were seven points from qualifying for the next stage,” Kim King said. “They nailed all the stunts. It was a good boost for us.”

King said they might pursue it again but it depends on funding the music, equipment and travel while finding dedicated girls who want to put in the extra work.

The Sequim School District provides travel for the squad each year with the football and basketball teams but uniforms and equipment are either rented year-to-year or paid for individually.

Romberg said they hosted the first pep dance with money helping the program.

Despite not competing formally, the girls find enjoyment in cheer’s opportunities.

Morgan said she likes assemblies most with the team.

“We get to do dances and stunts and everyone is pumped and there’s a lot of energy,” she said.

Alysha said she likes practices.

“It’s an opportunity to grow and work with girls we don’t always work with,” she said. “That way we get to know each other.”


Reach reporter Matthew Nash at