MORE THAN JUST PRETTY FACES!

CGUHS Cheer has passion for life and encouraging others

by Richard O’Neil, CPA, O’Neil & Steiner, PLLC

Attend any Casa Grande Union High School football or basketball game and you are bound to see the members of the CGUHS spiritline perform. The job of a cheerleader is to encourage, to support and to inspire others. In this day and age, cheerleading has also become a competitive sport all its own. Casa Grande Union High School’s spiritline has brought a whole new level of cheerleading to Casa Grande. Over the last six years, under the watchful eyes of varsity coach Katie Kramer and junior varsity coach Michelle Estrada, a program has emerged that is attracting statewide attention.

Watching them perform on the sidelines seems normal until you see them take flight. With pyramids reaching frightening heights, young fliers spinning through the air and gymnastic prowess rarely seen outside of a university setting, there is no mistaking this group is something special. Competing against other cheer lines, this team has made it to the state championship final competition five years in a row. In the recent state championships Casa Grande Union’s spiritline placed fourth in state AIA division II.

Four of the team members hold national championship titles, and several have been nominated as “All American” cheerleaders. The individual accomplishments of this group go far beyond cheerleading. For most of the team members, cheerleading is not their only extracurricular activity. They are also involved in activities like the National Honor Society, Key club, fine arts, vocal music, and elite competitive dance. The majority of the students attend advanced placement classes, and most are rated near the top of their class. Two of the spiritline members serve on the city’s youth commission, with cheerleader Savannah McMahon serving as commission president. When you get to know these young people you realize they are healthy, happy, well-balanced students who have a passion for life and a passion for encouraging others.

Granddaughter of longtime Casa Grande businessman and civic leader Don Johnson, varsity coach Katie Kramer has deep roots in Casa Grande and is passionate about the community. She seeks not only to help the team members to become the best cheerleaders they can be, but also to instill in them a sense of civic responsibility and to build future community leaders. In fact, over the last few years the CGUHS spiritline has transformed from just being high school cheerleaders, to becoming cheerleaders for the entire community. For example the team has recently cheered for local businesses to help raise funds for the Museum of Casa Grande/Historical Society, helped with Hot Wings for History at the Museum of Casa Grande, helped the Casa Grande Main Street program promote downtown merchants through their social media networks, helped Home Depot to prepare gift bags for the homeless, helped collect items for families who lost their homes in the Yarnell fire, put together a dance for the children at the Early Childhood Learning Center for their Special Olympics activity day, helped the Casa Grande Police Department paint out graffiti, hosted a cheer clinic and donated the proceeds to The Make a Wish Foundation, participated in Relay for Life, face-painted at the University of Arizona Cooperative Extension Community Fun Day, and participated in a local clean-up campaign.

One thing is for certain, this team is not just a bunch of pretty faces. The next time you watch this group perform, realize you are watching the development of future leaders in our community.