MYRTLE POINT — Myrtle Point High School hasn’t had a competition cheer team for a few years. But the town has had one, and when a bunch of them moved up to the high school last fall, they wanted to restore the competitive sport.
“When I took over coaching here, I left it up to them whether they wanted to compete or not, and they wanted to,” said Courtney Comer, the school’s first-year cheer coach.
Comer was a cheerleader when she was a high school student in Tennessee, but her school didn’t have a competition team. She got her introduction to the sport watching Myrtle Point’s youth team, coached by Aimee Shull.
‘I’ve kind of been thrown in,” Comer said. “It’s been fun.”
Her first team is weighted heavily toward those high school newcomers. Myrtle Point will have 11 team members at the state championships in Portland on Saturday, and eight of them are freshmen.
But even though they will likely be one of the youngest teams among the 77 competing in different divisions, that doesn’t mean they will be among the least experienced.
“Most of them were really good and educated and I didn’t have to focus on the basics,” Comer said.
Myrtle Point has two boys, both among the eight freshmen, and will compete in the coed small division against, a number of established teams from bigger classifications — small refers to the size of the squad, not the school. Of the 18 schools in the division, Myrtle Point is one of just two smaller than Class 5A, the other North Bend, which moves up to that classification in the fall. That makes the chance of placing less likely.
The Bobcats were in two competitions heading to state. Comer said the first one was rough, but a good learning experience.
“The second one, they did really well,” she said. “I was really proud of them and they were proud of themselves. We all came out of it feeling like they did a good job.”
That’s what she’s hoping for this week, too, as the group with just one senior experiences state for the first time.
“I want them to be happy and have fun,” Comer said. “I know that all their hard work is going to pay off. They might not place, but I am proud of all the work they put in.”
The benefit of the young team is that the Bobcats have lots of opportunity to build for the future.
“They definitely enjoy doing it,” Comer said. “They’re already looking forward to next year.
“We will go to competitions and they will see what other teams are doing and they comment on how cool it is.”
A lot of those ideas might end up in Myrtle Point’s routines in future years, when the Bobcats try to build on the foundation set this year.
The squad competing this week includes senior Caitlin Huff, junior Leonna Hillhouse, sophomore Hailey Waterman and freshmen Mik Alker, Caitlin Gill, Gabby Henshaw, Amy Lockhorn, Lily Lockhorn, Kevin Rutcoskey-Yakes, Marley Williams and Sophia Alvarez, the team’s captain.