Wolves cheer season gets late start due to pageants

Wednesday, August 5, 2015 - 23:00

First-year Eagle River High head cheerleading coach Holly Adkins will be missing the team’s first few days of practice this week – but with good reason – as she accompanies her daughter, 16-year-old junior Elle, to the Miss America’s Outstanding Teen Scholarship Pageant held in Orlando, Florida.

Nicole Abate, the competition cheerleader coach, who serves as the assistant sideline cheer coach, will be accompanying the pair.

Adkins and Abate meet with prospective team members, and their parents, in an informational meeting last week.

“The kids in competition cheer are working towards a goal - whether it’s a college scholarship, or a state title in a competition at the end of the season,” said Abate, calling for athletes to make an “all-in” commitment to the program and one another.

Adkins interjected that the student-athlete concept.

“Academics comes first – 100 percent,” she added.

The pre-season meeting brought out nine members. Adkins is hoping for at least 20 come the first day of practice.

Athletes present include seniors Taylor Butler and Katie Schoff; juniors Abigail Vanderburg, Abbie Rathkopf and Elle Adkins; sophomores Kate Gadoury, Abigail Martinex and Vanessa Alexander; and freshman Teionnah Mathis.

“Though we be small, we be mighty,” said Adkins, waxing Shakespearean, with a slight twist of “and though she be but small, she is fierce.”

Martinez, a sophomore “back spot”, said the sport requires dedication to the team.

“It’s a hard-core sport – most people don’t realize how hard it really is,” she affirmed.

Senior Katie Schoff, one of the team’s most seasoned dancers having begun at age 3, also is a back spot, helping to form the strong foundation for the multi-tiered stunts the team performs.

Schoff said she hopes to pursue Cheer and Dance next year at UAA, following the lead of Eagle River Wolves 2014 cheer captain Paige McGraw.

Taylor Butler, the other senior, said the sport requires year-round participation.

“One season blinds into one another,” she said, noting that Football cheer, comp cheer, basketball cheerleading, and the summer comp cheer fills the calendars.

As a base for stunts, the three after escape notice compared to the team’s “flyers” who are spun, flipped and twisted in the air.

Often at the top of those pyramids is Elle Adkins.

Adkins qualified for the Alaska State title after winning the Miss Chugiak-Eagle River Outstanding Team title earlier this summer.

Adkins is now the fourth contestant from the Chugiak-Eagle River area to have competed in the national pageant since its beginning in 2005. Others include Sierra Slade (2008), Veronica Temple (2009) and Hannah Rockwell (2011).

The competition includes four disciplines – interview, evening wear, active wear and talent.

Adkins’ talent will be an acrobatic dance, said mother Holly, featuring a Charleston flavor. Elle choreographed the dance herself after attending a clinic in Palm Springs, CA, in May.

Miss Alaska Zoey Grenier, 19, of Anchorage, will also be traveling to Orlando, as the two pageants are held in conjunction with one another.

Adkins’ platform for community service, a criteria for the title, is literacy – specifically “Ready to Read – Literacy for All.”

An avid reader herself, after the pageant Elle will be visiting Harry Potter World, at Universal Studios.

With their return to Anchorage, both Adkins and Abate will be busy with cheerleading for the duration of the season.

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