By Maria Magana-Navarro, Journal intern.
Since 2018, Ida Charlshagen has served as an assistant coach for the Friday Harbor cheerleaders, eventually rising up in the ranks to become head coach. 2023, a year of change and continuity marks Ida’s second year as the head coach of the cheer program. For this new season of cheer, Charlshagen, as well as the team, are very excited for a re-energized cheer season filled with new team members, stunts, and choreographies.
The previous season of cheer marked some obstacles as there were only 6 girls on the team, which proved difficult when it came to stunt work. Along with a small group of girls, Charlshagen was dealing with personal problems of her own. “Last year was extremely difficult for my family as my fiancé was battling cancer. Now that he is in complete remission, I knew that I wanted to come back to coaching and give the program 100% of my heart and energy so that we can excel as a team.”
The young ladies of this season include three more girls than the previous year. Seniors; Jasmyn McEwen (captain), Sierra Fitts, Francesca Otis, juniors; Paloma Waldron, Paige Carlton-Fleirl, Elena Swanson, and Elizabeth Ockerman, sophomore; Jillian Otis, and freshman; Madison Ockerman.
With new members came new cheers as a new wave of “modernization”. The cheers of this year are both offensive and defensive, this time, involving a wider audience participation. This can be seen through the new “Do it” cheer. This cheer allows each grade to participate by dancing and cheering (which serves wonders in rivalry pep rallies between students). Parents can also join in on the fun by chanting and cheering together, “really expressing our Wolverine Pride!”
Although the cheer team is experiencing a wave of change, there are many things that continue in the name of tradition. “Such as specific spirit cheers or painting boxes, for decades. I plan to keep most of our spirit cheers the same so that previous generations can still feel connected to our team and to the school.”
When it comes to team spirit and the overall definition of what it means to be a cheerleader, there’s more to it than what meets the eye. Cheerleading isn’t just about the cool stunts, cute outfits, or school support. Sure, the goal is to practice new stunts and choreographies, however, “The most rewarding aspect of coaching is watching the students grow in character, confidence, skill, and leadership… I have the privilege of influencing the cheerleaders, whether it is real-world lessons and advice or just a safe, fun place to make memories.
Charlshagen’s ultimate goal is to make a difference and leave an impact on her players’ lives, whether or not the girls decide to continue cheering after high school. “Cheerleading is greater than practices, games, and community events that fill your schedule… It’s about developing the best version of yourself and allowing you to seek your greatest potential.”