KAMIAH Ashlei Ryan is glad to be home. And she’s proving it daily.
The 2007 graduate of Kamiah High School recently moved back to the area with her 2-1/2 year –old daughter, Maylei.
“This is a great place to raise kids and I am so glad to be back,” she said. She is a CNA who is studying nursing.
However, upon coming home, Ryan noticed something missing. It was Kamiah school spirit and she felt like she could help bring it back.
“The school hadn’t had cheerleaders in several years – it’s one of those programs that didn’t get enough interest and just kind of went by the wayside,” she shrugged.
As Ryan spent all four of her high school years cheering and even helping coach her cheer squad, she knew what cheerleaders can mean for school spirit at pep assemblies, around town and at games.
“I really wanted to help revive the program and I thought, ‘I have time. I can do this,’” she said.
Ryan’s passion paid off when 10 came out for the squad.
“The school definitely needed a lift in its spirit and I was excited to help with that,” said junior Lizeth Serecero.
Shanell Broncheau is the only senior on the squad.
“Spirit was really missing these last few years I’ve been in school,” Broncheau added. Current students at KHS had never known a time prior to this year when there were cheerleaders.
Ryan is accompanied by assistant coach Obie Tuning, a 2012 graduate who was a homeschool student but previously participated in cheer at KHS.
“I was a gymnast for years and I really enjoy it, so coming back to help has been a lot of fun,” he said.
Junior Ally Schleich said she wanted to be involved to the school would have some “positive influences to encourage school spirit.”
“I feel like people feel more comfortable now when they come out to support our football team,” she said.
Freshman Joey Huerta is the only male on the squad, thought the team started out with one other boy who was unable to continue.
“Cheer looked like a lot of fun,” he said. “It looked peppy – my friends were having fun with it. I feel comfortable being the only guy because I grew up with sisters.”
“I joined cheer because I love being loud and outgoing,” said sophomore Tela Loewen Ridley. “Getting the crowd excited is amazing and I love seeing other people cheer for our team and support us, too.”
“I think that cheer is important for our town to have,” she added. “The Little Kub [elementary school] cheerleaders have contributed a lot to our community and their coach really inspired me to cheer this year.”
Ryan said when she presented her plan for cheerleading to the school board it was met with encouragement.
“The community has also been very supportive,” she said. She and Tuning are each certified coaches and they push the squad to pursue stunts, dance moves and cheers.
“It’s a sport and it’s difficult,” Ryan said. “They have a rigorous practice schedule and they have to sign a code of conduct and keep up their grades just like for any sport.”
Ryan said the team has already improved greatly since the beginning of the year.
“I think when we started only two people could do cartwheels and now everyone can,” she said. “Their stunts and cheers are better and I am hoping to get them to competition this year.”
Uniforms were provided at a “greatly reduced cost,” by Kristina Wilkins with Cedar Creek Creations, Ryan said, and the community has been “enormously supportive.”
“We don’t have a budget, so we have had to raise all our own money,” she said. “But that’s good. They have a real investment in the program and what they have earned.”
The squad has been out in the community a lot, she added, as they paint the windows of businesses to garner support for KHS.
Although football season is coming to a close soon, Ryan and many of the squad members plan to return to cheer for basketball as well.
“And we hope to have more people come out for cheer for that – no experience necessary,” smiled Serecero.
Additional squad members not mentioned in this article article are Hallea McAllister, Chelsea Robinson, Isabella Lee, Samantha Krieger and Rebecca Clevenger.