Archive for the ‘Cheer’ Category

The CCJH cheer team had long practices on nights and weekends to prepare for the DMSAL competition. (Photo by Tiffani Morris)

The CCJH cheer team had long practices on nights and weekends to prepare for the DMSAL competition. (Photo by Tiffani Morris)

By Bailey Tower
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s Cougars cheer squad won the Desert Middle Schools Athletic League for the sixth time on March 19 at Combs High School.
     They competed against three other teams: Hohokam, Combs and Maricopa. The Cougars won all five categories, including the all-around.
     There were five categories that included five-man, which is a one-minute stunting routine that only involves five members of each team and lib-off, which is a competition in which one stunt group from each school participates to see who can hold a lib stunt the longest.
     Jump-off is a competition in which two cheerleaders from each school perform different jumps and the cheerleader with the highest and best executed jumps wins. Tumble-off is a competition in which two cheerleaders from each school perform their best tumbling pass and the ladies are eliminated until there is a winner.
     “Jessica Grabowski won the jump-off and I won the tumble-off and one of our stunt groups won the five-man and the lib-off,” said eighth grader Robynn Vandekrol. “We won the all-around show cheer competition and got trophies.”
     These girls have worked hard to earn the term champions for Cactus Canyon Junior High school. The team usually practiced four to five days a week for two to five hours. Practices often went into the evening hours.
     “We also practiced during spring break on Thursday for three hours and Friday for hours,” said Coach Cathy Messenger. “Plus, we had football games to attend to in January and February.”
     The girls practiced and practiced and they followed through by winning every category.
     “This year was an amazing year, full of hard work and good times,” said Vandekrol. “Our team walked into competition confident and walked out champions once again.”



By Shea W.
Cougar News Blog

     Cactus Canyon’s cheer team dropped their poms when they were announced first place and a fifth consecutive win because of their hard work and dedication. The Desert Middle Schools Athletic League cheer competition was held on Saturday, March 28 at Apache Junction High School.
     This was Cathryn Messenger’s last year coaching and her team wanted to make her proud.
     “In all honesty, the most important factors for me were that all the teams were able to showcase all their hard work and that everyone walked away with great memories,” said Messenger.
     Before the event, all the girls stayed for late night practices to get the team ready for competition. Messenger wanted the girls to learn that without just one person everything you worked very hard for will fall without any warning.
     “I learned that even when there’s drama, stick through it. Even if you want to quit, keep going because obviously it got us somewhere,” said Kara O’Connor.
     Messenger has created a legacy at Cactus Canyon and doesn’t want that to disappear. She will probably not be coaching for a while and will spend more time with her husband and children. and She will probably be the one to select a new coach for next year.
     “I want to thank CCJH, Mrs. Castelhano, Mr. Cantrell, and Mrs. Gingrich for allowing me to be part of this fantastic school for the past 5 years,” said Messenger. “I will truly miss being part of CCJH, but I am so thankful for everything and everyone I have encountered over the years.”
     The amount of money used for the competition between three schools was about $500. All the girls and their parents helped to set up from 8:30 to 10 p.m. and they also helped sell program ads for the public to grab on their way in, but they ran out of copies.
     “Since we wanted the event to be spectacular, we went above and beyond as much as we could,” said Messenger, “I would say, all in all, the cost to host the competition was probably close to $500.”


By Hannah Wolfe
Cougar News Blog

On Friday, March 28, Cactus Canyon Junior High cheerleaders traveled to Coolidge Ariz. for the Desert Middle School Athletic League cheer competition and came out victorious with their fourth consecutive first-place finish.
The cheerleaders practiced for about 50 hours to perfect their five-minute routine. They changed the routine twice, and often practiced until about 6 or 7 p.m. to prepare.
Coach Cathy Messenger said she is proud that the squad was able to win the league again, but she’s even more proud of how the team grew during the season.
“Most people think the best part would be winning the cheer competition, but that’s not really it,” said Messenger, who has been coach cheer for 11 years. “I would have to say it’s seeing your team be successful, watching them grow from the very beginning of tryout to competition day, and making tremendous accomplishments. It brings me to tears when they finally realize what they are made of and just how great they are.”
Messenger said the work the team did shows how difficult cheer is.
“There is so much to cheer, and it tends to be an unappreciated sport. So many people think cheer is easy and, boy, are they wrong,” said Messenger. “Anyone who thinks it’s easy, I dare them to come to our practices. My girls have had concussions, fallen from mid air, practice for seven hours straight, and they do it with a smile on their face.”
The cheerleaders also cheered for the football team during football season and are now cheering for the basketball team.
“My favorite thing is being able to inspire and lead the younger cheerleaders to work hard next year and be good examples for future cheerleaders,” said eighth grade cheerleader Trinity Izbicki.

By Anna Gray
Cougar News Blog

Cactus Canyon has been holding many fundraisers to help pay for sports activities and school trips.
Students who plan on going on the San Diego or Washington, D.C., trips participated in the Gold Canyon Candles fundraiser, while the cheer squad has held a few fundraisers of their own, such as Gobble Grams and Jamba Juice cards.
Cheer recently finished up with sales of Gobble Grams, flips flops, and key chains and is now selling Jamba Juice card. One more fundraiser is coming at the end of the month. Candle sales ended Dec. 2.
The students participating in these fundraisers need the money to help them pay for unique opportunities. Many junior high schools do not offer educational trips out of the state or competitive sports. Although the cost of is high, teachers believe the experience is worth it and that students can learn from raising the money to pay for them.
“I expect that my cheerleaders will learn people skills, money management, and will understand that we must work hard for the things that we desire,” said Coach Cathy Messenger.
“Each student was asked to create their own goal for this fundraiser,” said Wendy McQuilkin, sponsor of the Washington trip.
The cost of the San Diego trip is $400 and the D.C. trip costs $1,600. Money from the fundraisers will go to the student who raised it to help pay for fees.
As for the cheerleaders, they are holding many fundraisers because they are trying to raise $2,000 for upcoming competitions. Messenger wants to be able to have professional choreography and music. The team has been undefeated in the last three years and they want to be able to do it again. In previous seasons, though, cheerleaders only had one competition, but this year there are two.
Most of these fundraisers will be coming to an end before the end of the semester, but more may be needed in January.

Jackie Burgan
Cougar News Blog

Even though the cheer season doesn’t begin until January, the cheer squad is starting the process of winning its fourth consecutive Desert Middle School Athletic League title by holding tryouts this week.
This year for the cheer team there are two competitions, which is will be a first. The squad is looking into a competition with schools from other states.
“I think doing an outside competition will be extra motivation for the team,” says Cheer Coach Cathryn Messenger. “It is different than the competition that they are accustom to.”
Cheer tryouts started Monday, Oct. 21, and the team will be chosen Friday, Oct. 25.
Coach Messenger is looking for significant things in the girls who are trying out.
She said, “When choosing my squad, I look for members who are dedicated, have a good attitude, leadership skills, integrity, and good academic standings, and are responsible, respectful and promote school spirit.”
“Actually making the team this year will be hard because there are a lot of girls trying out and there are a limited amount of spots for the squad,” said eighth grader Trinity Izbicki.
Students who were in cheer last year, and now again this year said there is a lot of pressure to win again.
Izbicki said, “There is tons of pressure on going to the competitions and making the team, because this year we are going to try to do an out of state competition, which will be way different than we are used to.”
The girls that are trying out for cheer are doing some extra things that are really good and might help them make the squad.
Eighth-grade student Shaylee Russell said, “I would practice every day. Even if I already understand the cheer, I would also video tape myself to see if I am tight and doing everything right.”

By Sommer Middleton
Cougar News Blog

Unlike previous years, Cactus Canyon cheerleaders will be bringing Cougar spirit to both home and away basketball games this season.
After three years of only the teams traveling to away football games, the Cactus Canyon cheerleaders will be taking their show on the road, to all the gymnasiums of the opposing basketball teams.
“The reason for our cheerleaders traveling after two years of not, is so we can bring more cougar spirit to away games and show off our three time champion cheerleading team,” said Chad Cantrell Cactus Canyon athletic director.
In order to get to the games the cheerleaders will joining the basketball and soccer players on the bus.
“I enjoy having the cheerleaders on the bus because they raise our spirits,” said seventh grader Trevor Bayer.
Even though the basketball players enjoy having the cheerleaders at their games, it makes the time to and from away games a lot more crowded.
“One of the things that’s different about having soccer basketball and cheer all on one bus is that there are fewer seats,” said eighth grader Cameron Kunkle.
While being on the bus is a little more crowded than expected, the cheerleaders still enjoy cheering at the games.
“The boys are quiet and full of concentration while we are loud and full of energy, so it makes for a very eventful bus ride,” said seventh grader Alyssa Pauley.
CCJH cheerleaders and band members march in the Lost Dutchman parade on Feb. 23.

CCJH cheerleaders and band members march in the Lost Dutchman parade on Feb. 23.

By McKenna Nimtz
Cougar News Blog

This year at Cactus Canyon Junior High, players from softball, cheer, and band were in the Lost Dutchman Parade Feb. 23.
The students thought it would be a great idea to be in the parade to show everyone what their school offers.
“The 13 softball girls that were in the parade had a blast passing out candy to the little boys and girls and they are looking forward to see the younger girls take their place next year,” said softball coach Bill Wilson.
Participants from each group tried their best to be enthusiastic to showing everyone in the crowd that each team is something special and unique.
“The girls did a few cheers along they way with laughs and enjoyment,” Wilson said. “They loved the attention from the crowd of the people who were watching the parade and did their best to steer up the crowd.”
The softball and cheer girls did not need to practice for the parade but the band did have to practice its songs to perform down the streets.
Almost everyone from each team was able to take part of their Saturday to represent CCJH.
“There were a few missing due to other activities, said cheer coach Cathy Messenger. “Out of 22, there were only two that were not able to make it.”


By Sommer Middleton
Cougar News Blog

Just like the rest of the sports teams at Cactus Canyon, cheer wants to win a league championship. As the squad moves into the competitive section of the season it is going for its third Desert Middle School Athletic League title in a row and are feeling the pressure.
Previous competitions have been held in May, but this year’s will be held will be at 6 p.m. on March 22, in the San Tan Valley Foothills High School gym. Since the competition was moved up by two months the team has had less time to prepare and perfect their routines.
“Having less time to prepare is very stressful and they had to move it up because all the other school’s cheerleaders only cheer for one season,” said seventh grader Cortny Middleton.
“Its almost like learning a new language,” said seventh grader Cortny Middleton. “Learning (routines) takes time, patience, and practice.”
One part of the pressure is wanting to win for the third time in a row because the CCJH cheer squad has never lost the competitive section of the DMSAL season. The squad has to be motivated and really want this win because unlike other sports that play many games, cheer only has one chance.
“Coach keeps us working hard and keeps us fit and we listen to her so we get things done,” said seventh grader Kiara Christmas.



By Sage Lewis
Cougar News Blog

The Little Cougars, a program for inspiring little girls that want to be cheerleaders, was held during the week of Feb. 1. During the week, CCJH cheerleaders taught girls from AJUSD elementary schools some of their cheers and the two groups performed together at the CCJH football game on the Davis field.
Little Cougars is a program that was a tradition started by Coach Cathy Messenger. These bite-sized athletes learned their moves from hard-working girls that attend cheer practice in the Cactus Canyon gym.
She said the program shows that CCJH welcomes the community to be involved in Cactus Canyon Junior High.
“The goal of the Little Cougars clinic is to have our cheerleaders actively involved in our community,” Messenger said.
The clinic is a good experience for both Little Cougars and the cheer Cougars as it teaches patience, work ethic, responsibility, and commitment.
“For the Little Cougars, we hope that they gained some basic cheerleading skills as well as self-confidence, but of course it is most important that they have fun,” said Messenger. “For my cheerleaders, I hope that they gain a sense of responsibility, learn about the challenges and joys of teaching cheer, but most of all I hope it enhances their leadership skills.”
“I think the Little Cougars learned the concept of what it takes to be a cheerleader,” said eighth grader Alex Inlow. “It helps me build my communicating skills and in some ways it helps me become a better cheerleader.”
The CCJH cheer squad prepared a routine for the Little Cougar to learn in one night. The younger Cougars wore the white with pink lettered shirts as they performed their new moves at during halftime Feb. 1.
Messenger said the clinic was successful and she hopes to have another community event during the boys basketball season.
“This years Little Cougar bunch varied in age a lot more than last year’s,” she said. “We also had more participants this year, which was awesome. Last year, we had 16 participants and this year we had 24. I’m hoping we can match that amount for the upcoming clinic in April, and maybe even get some boys involved.”
The proceeds from the Little Cougars are going to support the CCJH cheerleaders at their competition March 22.


By McKenna Nimtz
Cougars News Blog

Eighth grader Alex Ivy is the only boy on the Cactus Canyon cheer team. He is the first boy to ever join the squad and the team is ecstatic to have a new member.
The 14-year-old cheerleader has heart and self-confidence, which Coach Cathy Messenger said makes him an asset to the team.
“Alex does a great job at everything,” she said. “(He) adds an element that not many other schools have on their cheer squad.”
Ivy plays other sports, but doesn’t play football and wanted to be involved during the season.
“I never really liked football for some reason, but I still I wanted to be active, so I tried out for cheer,” Ivy said.
Messenger said he does an excellent job at motivating the team. The only elements that are different, are that she can no longer say “all right ladies” and when choreographing routines she has to come up with “not so girly” moves for Ivy.
“He also treats the girls like his sisters and looks out for each of them,” Messenger said. “He is determined in everything he does and always gives 110 percent. And on top of that he cracks me up.”
Because the uniforms for the girls, the school had to special order Ivy’s outfit. While the girls wear short skirts, Ivy has a short sleeved T-shirt with track pants.
Although he said his experience has been very positive, Ivy has been teased by some students for being a boy in a sport traditionally for girls.
“I have had to deal with many kids calling me names or just making fun of me in general, but most people or students would call me (girly),” Ivy said.
Ivy said hopes he inspires other boys to also join the team in the future because more boys on the team could improve school spirit among the guys.
“I have had boys on teams I have coached prior to CCJH, and all I can say is that I would love to have more guys with the drive and determination that Alex has,” Messenger said.