By Dr. Jim Beers
Chester High School Cheer Coach, Rachel Ranta-Marshall, has been very busy since the 2017-18 cheer season came to a close in late February and early march. With the benediction of basketball and competition seasons, Coach Ranta-Marshall and her Assistant Coach, Michelle Rust, have been extremely busy preparing for next season.
Ranta-Marshall provided a summary of the 2016-17 cheer activities prior to officially beginning her 2017-18 preparation. Coach Rachel said, “We had a very successful football/basketball and competitive season this year.”
Summer practices started in June of 2016 and the girls attended a stunt camp at Waterloo. Then at the end of June, Super CDA held a private cheer camp for the Lady Jacket Cheerleaders. At this camp the girls learned choreography as well as basic skills which helped the incoming freshmen.
Football season was full of excitement. Homecoming was a very busy week for the girls. The cheerleaders always paint the business windows and decorate the football field. They also walk in the parade and throw out candy and beads to Yellow Jacket fans.
The competition cheer squad consisted of six freshmen, two sophomores, five juniors and two seniors. They participated in their first competition of the season held at Waterloo High School in November. They walked away with 4th place in the Varsity Division.
They also qualified for ICCA Championships in Springfield, Illinois during the first weekend of January. The girls spent many long, hard hours preparing for this competition season which consisted of cheers, partner stunts, two pyramids, a few tumbling sequences, multiple jumps, and ended with a dance.
The hard work and effort paid off too! CHS earned a 1st Place trophy at the Chester Invitational Tournament in early January. In February the squad held its annual cheer camp for girls in grade school. The theme was, “Cheering through the Ages”, and the girls trained 125 three-year-olds through 8th grade students.
At the camp, kids learned cheers and dances to music from the 80’s, 90’s, and 2000’s. The annual camp was capped-off with a live performance at the CHS vs. Steeleville Basketball game. Both the camp and performances were deemed a huge success and enjoyed by all.
To end the season, Coaches Ranta-Marshall and Rust held a banquet and awards night March 7 at which time the annual cheer awards were presented. The event was held at the CHS Cafeteria and included a potluck meal. All together there were 16 major awards presented including:
Best Attitude: Cara Childs
Best Jumps: Kaylah Hasemeyer
Best Tumbler: Ashtyn Jany
Most Encouraging: Karson Colvis
Most Dedicated: Alli Kennon
Most Improved: Elyzabeth Mitchell
Most Spirited: Ashley Hennrich
Best Motions: Jessica Handel
Best Memorization: Amira Al-Jassim
Best Facials: Parker Knippa
Hardest Worker: Kamryn Wingerter
Most Reliable: Emily Atchison
Miss Personality: Adeline Blechle
Best Showmanship: Ellen Blechle
Best Technique: Kendra Martinez
Tryouts for the upcoming 2017-18 season were held March 20-22 in CHS Juergen’s Gymnasium. Judging took place all for nights of the camp. With two seniors graduating this May, Ellen Blechle and Kendra Martinez, the squad will return a lot of talent next year.
The 2017-18 squad will include six seniors, two juniors, six sophomores and four rookie-freshmen. Seniors will be Kaylah Hasemeyer, Karson Colvis, Ashley Hennrich, Alli Kennon, Emily Atchison and Faye Hathaway.
Juniors include Cara Childs and Kamryn Wingerter. Sophomores will be Ashtyn Jany, Parker Knippa, Elyzabeth Mitchell, Jessica Handel, Adeline Blechle, and Amira Al-Jassim. New comers to the high school cheer squad include freshmen Melody Colonel, Kennedy Herrell, Alyvia Rayburn and Lauren Soellner.
The cheerleaders held their first fundraiser for the upcoming season on Friday April 7 at the Chester VFW. The event was a Glow Bingo extravaganza which included cosmic bingo, a silent auction, food, and a 50/50 raffle. There were 300 community members show up to support the cheer squad.
Coaches, parents and cheerleaders wish to thank the Chester VFW, Black Diamond Harley Davidson, BV Bank, Chester Memorial Hospital, Colvis Investment Services, First Class Auto, Inc., Friess Property Management, PJR and Associates, Pepsi Mid-America, Red Dot Construction, Southern Illinois Eye care, Dr. Soellner, Uptown Barbers, and Vasquez Fitness Center.
Wednesday April 19 Coach Ranta-Marshal brought in a former Southern Illinois University cheerleader to give a brief clinic in Juergen’s Gym from 7-9 P.M. The event was especially good for the newer cheerleaders who had not done much stunting at the grade school level.
CHS coaches were impressed with both with the quality of instruction from the teacher and the attentiveness and dedication of the 2017-18 cheer squad during the two-hour event. All indications are that 2017-18 will be a great year for the squad!
Coach Ranta-Marshall said, “We really appreciate everyone’s support for both last year and for next year. We hope to see all Yellow Jacket fans on their feet cheering for the Chester High School Yellow Jackets in the upcoming season!”
The 2016-17 Chester High School Cheerleaders pose for a photo after one of their recent competitions. The group had a very successful year attending several clinics and camps. At the Waterloo Varsity Cheer Competition they won 4th Place in the Small Varsity Division. They also qualified to compete in the 2017 ICCA Championships in Springfield, Illinois. The Chester squad won the cheer competition at the 2017 Chester Invitational Tournament. In addition, they hosted the annual CHS Cheer camp which boasted 125 campers. Chester Coach Rachel Ranta-Marshall was very pleased with the activities and accomplishments of the team throughout the 2016-17 sports cheering activities and the competition season.