The Lake Oswego High School cheerleaders got to try their hand at coaching Thursday, Oct. 3 for the annual Laker Youth Cheer Camp held at the high school. Students from kindergarten through eighth grade were invited to participate in the camp and learn cheerleading basics, Laker cheers and routines, and get to know the current cheer squad.
Former cheer coach Terrie Shiek, who coached the team for 19 years and now works as an office manager for the school, said her favorite part of the camp is watching the squad interact with the youngsters. "It's great to see them take control and show their leadership skills," she said. "I love to watch them interact with the kids — it brings out the child in them as well."
The campers learned cheers like the "Laker Rumble" and "Laker Nation," and were taught a routine that they performed at halftime of Friday's homecoming game with the high schoolers.
Danica Gazzigli, the current cheer coach, said the camp provides a fun way for young and aspiring cheerleaders to learn the fundamentals of the sport. "It gives young cheerleaders the chance to build confidence and experience teamwork," she said. "We have several girls that return each year and they always have such a great time. It's also a chance for them to work with the older girls who they look up to and watch at football games Friday nights."
Gazzigli said she enjoys watching her team step up and lead beyond what they do every Friday night. "It's really exciting to see some of them lead in different ways than they typically would with each other or their peers," she said. "They really do an amazing job taking cheerleading back to the basics and bring so much joy to the sport they love."
Gazzigli was once a Laker cheerleader herself, and feels like being back at home in the cheer program. "Coaching the Laker Cheer Team has been so rewarding this season. This program gave me so much during my high school career: friends, family, confidence, and a support system," she said. "Coaching these young people feels like an opportunity to give back to them in the same way."
While the current team has a lot of young members, Gazzigli said they are extremely talented. This year has been a great growing season. Each week they continue to grow and they impress me every day," she said. "I love that they bring so much joy and positive energy to myself and to each other."
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