Chilliwack squad cheers on home team

New cheerleading team takes athletics to new heights at Chilliwack secondary school

Members of Chilliwack secondary's new cheer team practice at the school last week.

Members of Chilliwack secondary's new cheer team practice at the school last week.

It’s Thursday afternoon at Chilliwack secondary and a crowd is gathering just out the back doors, ready to take in the first home rugby game of the season. It’s a match that’s sure to be full of rough and hearty body hits as the Storm battles against G.W. Graham for the win.

Meanwhile, inside the school’s gymnasium, a small team of athletes works through their moves.

“One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight.”

Meet the new CSS cheer team. One dozen girls of varying experience in dance, theatre, cheerleading, track and  field hockey.

They work under the direction of coach/sponsor teacher Lynette Earle and stunt coach Jaylene Howie, meeting twice a week for gruelling practices that run up to two hours a time. Tuesdays are a regular practice, and Thursdays are stunt days. And because this is a home game day, it will be their first time cheering a rugby game.

The girls are excited.

Their warmup runs the gamut from light stretching to full-on Pilates, holding planks for minutes at a time. And just when their coach thinks they’ve had enough, the girls ask for more.

It was the girls who asked for the team in the first place.

“I had some girls come to me and ask about it last year,” Earle said. It would have been impossible without both Earle as the sponsoring teacher, and the stunt coach. They started up in late October with 15 and have dwindled down the the dedicated dozen. The team has cheered for boys and girls basketball already, focusing on the home games. But what the fans at the games see are called sideline cheers — easier routines that don’t include the stunts.

It’s coming, though, Earle said. The girls are working on a big routine that they’ll perform at the year end assembly. It’s loaded with stunts, choreography, physicality, and all the trappings of a full cheer show.

There’s just one proviso.

“We can’t toss,” she said, due to liability. “We have to keep contact in high school cheer.”

But they still have “flyers.” In Thursday’s practice, they break off into four groups of three. In each group, they work on lifting the flyer straight up, using the strength they’ve built up over months of practice. The goal, by the end of the year, is to have all three groups’ flyers raised in perfect unison.

“It’s a pretty demanding sport,” Earle said, watching the girls as they sometimes stumble, sometimes nail it. “Balance and core strength is very important.”

This is the only high school based cheer team in Chilliwack, and they’re hoping to grow. Right now, the girls don’t even have mats to fall onto when they miss a hit.

That will cost the team about $5,000, and Earle has a long list of fundraisers planned for the rest of the school year.

But the numbers are there for growth. There are plenty of talented cheerleaders in town, both through Fusion and the Giants. Many of them are in the elementary and middle school level right now. But they’ll be in high school soon, and Earle and her inaugural team will be ready for them.

“We’re pretty sure our team will be bigger next year,” she said. “We would like to have a junior team and a varsity team.”

They’re looking at entering competitions in the near future, too, but as a new group they are limited to entering those at their beginner level.

“It’ll take a few years to get up to those higher levels,” she said. But she’s confident cheer has become popular enough to make the program sustainable. And the long-term hope is that having a cheer team at home games will help build CSS school spirit — a school that used to draw in crowds that could lift the roof off a gym.

“School spirit has been a bit of a struggle at CSS,” she said. “The fan base has really dwindled and people just don’t come out and cheer like they used to.”

Maybe that will change one day, Earle said.

But until fans start filling the seats again, CSS teams can count on the cheer team to rally them on.


Just Posted

The Prest Road upgrade and widening project, with plans to replace the Semiault Creek bridge, will see a full road closure from June 21 to Sept. 3, 2021. (City of Chilliwack)
Full road closure coming for Prest Road widening project

It will be ‘local traffic only’ to nearby homes and farms once Prest Road is closed June 21

Hudson Dennill will head to Ohio this fall, signing a letter of intent with the Walsh University Cavaliers. (Eric J. Welsh/ Chilliwack Progress)
Dennill will join the Cavaliers this fall and play in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference

Sardis Falcons lacrosse star Hudson Dennill commits to Walsh University

A lone walker on the Hope River Corbould Park Rotary Trail on March 29, 2021. City of Chilliwack is seeking community input on its parks, recreation and culture master plan. (Jennifer Feinberg/ Chilliwack Progress)
Community input sought on the future of Chilliwack parks and recreation

Feedback from public sought as master plan for Chilliwack parks, rec and culture starts this summer

Police tape is shown in Toronto Tuesday, May 2, 2017. Statistics Canada says the country's crime rate ticked up again in 2018, for a fourth year in a row, though it was still lower than it was a decade ago. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graeme Roy
CRIME STOPPERS: ‘Most wanted’ for the week of June 13

Crime Stoppers’ weekly list based on information provided by police investigators

Madalyn Clempson, 18, of Chilliwack sings ‘Hiney Yamin Ba-im.’ She won the Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music award at the Performing Arts BC Virtual Provincial Festival. (YouTube)
Chilliwack youth bring home awards from provincial performing arts festival

Chilliwack’s 18-year-old Madalyn Clempson ‘a bit stunned’ to have won Intermediate Vocal Canadian Music

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau participates in a plenary session at the G7 Summit in Carbis Bay, England on Friday June 11, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Canada donating 13M surplus COVID-19 vaccine doses to poor countries

Trudeau says the government will pay for 87 million shots to be distributed to poor countries

Highway notices like this come down effective June 14. Public health restrictions on non-essential travel and commercial operation have hit local businesses in every corner of B.C. (B.C. government)
Province-wide travel back on in B.C.’s COVID-19 restart plan

Gathering changes include up to 50 people for outdoor events

Calgary Stampeders’ Jerome Messam leaps over a tackle during second half CFL western semifinal football action in Calgary, Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015.THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh
CFL football will be played this summer in Canada

Governors vote unanimously in favour to start the ‘21 campaign on Aug. 5

Citizenship Minister Marco Mendicino holds a press conference in Ottawa on Thursday, Nov. 12, 2020. The federal government is announcing that Indigenous people can now apply to reclaim their names on passports and other government documents. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Indigenous people can now reclaim traditional names on their passports and other ID

Announcement applies to all individuals of First Nations, Inuit and Métis background

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Harvesting hay in the Fraser Valley. (Tom Fletcher/Black Press)
COVID-19: B.C. waives farm income requirement for a second year

Property owners don’t need minimum income for 2022 taxes

Cruise ship passengers arrive at Juneau, Alaska in 2018. Cruise lines have begun booking passengers for trips from Seattle to Alaska as early as this July, bypassing B.C. ports that are not allowed to have visitors until March 2022 under a Canadian COVID-19 restrictions. (Michael Penn/Juneau Empire)
B.C. doesn’t depend on U.S. law to attract cruise ships, Horgan says

Provinces to get update next week on Canada’s border closure

This undated photo provided by Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails shows a scout donating cookies to firefighters in Rio Rancho, New Mexico, as part of the Hometown Heroes program. As the coronavirus pandemic wore into the spring selling season, many Girl Scout troops nixed their traditional cookie booths for safety reasons. That resulted in millions of boxes of unsold cookies. (Girl Scouts of New Mexico Trails via AP)
Thinner Mints: Girl Scouts have millions of unsold cookies

Since majority of cookies are sold in-person, pandemic made the shortfall expected

In this artist’s sketch, Nathaniel Veltman makes a video court appearance in London, Ont., on June 10, 2021 as Justice of the Peace Robert Seneshen (top left) and lawyer Alayna Jay look on. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Alexandra Newbould
Terror charges laid against London attack suspect

Crown says Nathaniel Veltman’s four counts of first-degree murder constitute an act of terrorism

Most Read