LINCOLN CITY — The Taft High School cheerleading team is tumbling and stunting like never before under a fresh trio of enthusiastic coaches with years of experience between them.
Jazmyn Logan, a cheer instructor for the last six years at the Boys and Girls Club of Corvallis, is the new head coach. She is assisted by cheerleading veteran Molly Altomare of Lincoln City and tumbling coach Noelle Stolle, a former collegiate gymnast at Cortland State University in New York.
Fans got their first glimpse of the revamped 16-member Tiger cheerleading squad Friday during the home game between Taft and Tillamook, where months of practice honed the spectacular acrobatics that are the trademark of a modern cheerleading squad.
“This is a year of building the basics,” said Altomare, who explained how cheerleaders bear the “awesome responsibility” to fuel school spirit no matter what the scoreboard reads. “We’re looking for super-sharp motions, stunning stunts and a nice, tight presentation. These aren’t just good athletes, they’re performers, too.”
Stoelle, the college-gymnast-turned-coach, works with cheerleaders on the most difficult routines involving acrobatics.
“We’re teaching them ‘acro’ skills such as round-offs with jumps, backhand springs and back-tuck flips,” she said during a lively practice session where young athletes somersaulted from the Astro Turf as though lifted by a trampoline.
Cheerleading is no longer the bastion of the most-popular girls on campus. The teams are highly competitive and have their own championships — Newport was the 2019 OSAA state champion. Their coaches say they are serious athletes whose two-and-a-half minute routines take cardiovascular endurance, lifting strength, flexibility and balance.
Boys are now an integral part of the cheerleading landscape, lending strength to the “builds” that result in pyramidal formations that reach for the gymnasium ceiling. Fifteen-year-old Ryan Riggs, a promising tumbler and acrobat, is Taft cheer’s only male this year.
“We’re really looking forward to entertaining the football crowds with a halftime show and cheers from the sidelines,” said Head Coach Logan. “We have a lot to show off this year.”