Roseburg High Schools will see some new cheers with a balance between tradition and contemporary.
New Roseburg High School cheerleading coach Julie Otley has been working tirelessly over the summer to find that balance.
The result will be new cheers, more stunts and more fan interactions, mixed with some of the traditional cheers that have been around RHS for generations.
“It’ll be a whole new style of cheer,” Otley said. “It’ll be a more competitive style, we stunt a lot.”
Senior cheerleader Ivy McCue added that the program will focus more on the team as a whole.
“It’s about the bigger picture,” senior cheerleader Misti Randall added. “It’s not how you look as an individual, but what the team looks like working together.”
Sue Carlson retired at the end of last season after 11 years as the head coach. Otley comes into the program with 10 years of her own experience.
“I was welcomed with open arms,” Otley said. “We just got to work and we worked on becoming a family unit and they really bought into that.”
Otley had been an assistant cheer coach for Douglas High School and South Umpqua High since moving to Roseburg two years ago.
Prior to that she was the head cheer coach at Burns High School for eight years. She was a cheerleader in junior high and high school at Ocasta Junior/Senior High School in Westport, Washington.
“I have a different vision of cheerleading so we’re changing, but we are keeping some of the traditions,” Otley said. “We have team meetings and they’ve told me what traditions are important to them as a squad.”
McCue said, “My sister was a cheerleader 11 years ago and it’s been the same program with the same cheers. I like to involve the student body and do more pep rallies, but we’ll also bring back some tradition.”
One of the traditional cheers the team is keeping is the “Mighty, Mighty Indian” cheer.
The varsity team has 21 members, while junior varsity has nine members. There are two boys on the varsity cheer squad and a total of six flyers to perform stunts during games.
“They’ve meshed so well,” Otley said. “There are some definite leaders, but it’s a large majority of our squad. I want them to reach their full potential on and off the mat.”
In previous years the seniors have had a leadership role on the squad, but the team is working to get rid of rankings based on age alone.
“Everybody is held responsible,” senior cheerleader Lindsey Willis said. Although the returning senior cheerleaders pointed out that they do try to help people when needed.
Otley is a nurse at Mercy Medical Center who graduated from the nursing program at Umpqua Community College.
“I just made my way back to Roseburg,” she said. “(The team) has been absolutely fabulous. They’re wonderful to work with.”
As Otley is starting a makeover of the program she’s also hoping to do more community service with the squad.
“We want to up our game,” Otley said. “I want to start doing more community service and growing better humans.”
While official practice started Monday, there has been practice throughout the summer. Although, with summer vacations, family trips and a plethora of other obligations it was not always easy for everyone to make it to those practices.
During the summer the team also had fundraisers and ran the bingo booth and Umpqua Dairy ice cream stand at the Douglas County Fair.
Monday the team started working on new routines, stunts and cheers.
“There’s a lot of bonding within cheerleading,’ McCue said. “And it’s been really good with the coach getting involved.”
The cheerleaders will travel with the football team and debut at the Aug. 31 game at Mt. View High School in Bend. Their first home performance is scheduled for Sept. 14, when the football team takes on Reynolds.
“It’ll be a good trial run,” Randall said of having their first game on the road.
When asked if they were ready for the season to start, there was a resounding yes from the senior squad members.
The squad size will reduce to somewhere between 12 and 15 when cheer competitions start in December. The squad will likely compete at four or five competitions before the state championships.
“I want them to show me they’re ready to work hard,” Otley said.