When Jessica Briggs heard amplified sound would be allowed at John O. Linde Park, it was music to the cheerleading coach’s ears.
“I am very happy about it,” said Briggs, who coaches cheerleading for Tigers youth football. “The girls look forward to being able to do those routines [with music], and they definitely work hard to be able to do it.”
On Oct. 4, the Town of Friday Harbor Council unanimously agreed to allow the use of speakers, for brief periods in the park, through next June.
Cheerleaders can use portable speakers to play music during performances, and coaches can announce players, particularly during events honoring seniors. High school athletes for sports, such as soccer, also use the Carter Avenue fields.
Though Tigers football has no more home games this season, Briggs hopes the changes pass again next summer. Briggs said that cheerleaders perform one, roughly three-minute routine during the halftime of each the Tigers’ three leagues’ games. For one day, Town of Friday Harbor staff allowed amplified sound for performances by the cheerleaders, who are in third- through eighth-grade.
Through June 14, amplified sound is allowed in the park from 10 a.m.-6 p.m., for no longer than 15 minutes at a time and cannot be heard past 200 feet of the speakers. Island Rec staff will oversee the approval of noise requests for sanctioned events like games, but not practices or public gatherings.
The public park includes a fieldhouse to rent, playground equipment and fields for youth football, soccer, softball and baseball. The San Juan Island School District owns the park, and Island Rec staff have overseen operations since their lease agreement began in January 2016.
According to Maddie Ovenell, Island Rec’s director, the organization staff have never approved requests for amplified sound since they took over management. The facility is funded by taxpayer money. Ovenell said 8 cents, collected from Island Rec’s levy on San Juan residents, go toward maintenance and operations.
For Briggs, the park’s addition of amplified sound will only help the squad. Last year, the team was recognized as the best in the league, but it’s the relationships, she said, that really shine through the performances.
“Some of these girls have been cheering with each other for four or five years,” said Briggs. “They become like family.”