EP BOC Adds Competitive Cheerleading

8th grade middle school basketball practices will experiment with combined practices.
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Photo courtesy Jessie Otten

The EP Co-op Board of Control voted to add Competitive Cheer as a sport to the list of Co-op activities at their September meeting and gave the green light to combine some middle school basketball practices.

First year EP cheer coach, Shauna DeBlieck, made a presentation at the board’s August meeting explaining the sport and asking the board to consider adding it. After hearing the details of implementing the sport, including costs, Athletic Directors, Derick Cox and Brian Howell recommend the sport be added. The vote on the motion was unanimous. The same motion will now have to be approved by each district’s school board to officially get the sport implemented this winter. The initial cost of approximately $5,000 will include uniforms, coach stipend, and music rights.

DeBlieck works in the Erie District as the Elementary School Nurse and was a cheerleader at Erie High School graduating in2006.

Following the meeting the coach said, “My dream is to be a cheer coach. I have always loved cheering. As a little kid I use to play cheerleading competition and watch it on TV.”

A few of the Three Rivers Conference teams currently compete in the sport including Rockridge, who DeBlieck said has been extremely helpful in getting the new program started. The team will have 16 members, which will include 2 alternates.

The new coach for the Panthers made an immediate impact on the program as this past summer the squad attended a three day cheer camp in Ames, Iowa and came away with the top award against several larger schools. “The EP girls brought it during the final competition at the camp. Their stunts went up, several which were learned at the camp, with no mistakes. It was awesome !” said the new coach.

Last year DeBlieck started a middle school cheer team at the Erie Middle School and hopes to start one in Prophetstown next year to help feed athletes into the program.

The IHSA season begins October 24th, with EP holding tryouts a few days prior. In order to perform with the competitive squad, a cheerleader has to be part of either the football or basketball squads. The initial season will include a few local competitions followed by a state series beginning in late January.

“I am excited to give them the opportunity to advance cheerleading into a competitive sport and allow them to get scored and show off their talents,” said DeBlieck.

Combined Basketball Practices

The board also agreed to allow the PLT and Erie Middle School basketball boys to hold combined practice for the first two weeks of the season and then possibly once a week during the rest of the season. Varsity basketball coaches Ryan Winckler and Chris Brown had suggested the move earlier this year and told the board the middle school coaches were, “Very receptive to the idea.”

The main reason for the combined practices is to allow the teams to have more competitive practices as both schools are currently struggling to have enough players to hold 5 on 5 scrimmages during practice. The initial combined practices will only involve the 8th grade boys and will alternate locations and equally divided.

The two teams will continue to have separate schedules and coaches throughout the season.

EP boys varsity basketball coach Ryan Winckler said, “We feel very positive about this change and are hoping this will be a great way for our guys to build relationships with each other.”

The boys’ program will be used as a test run to determine if the arrangement can continue to include girls’ program.

The boys season begins in mid-October.

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