The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

Local News

February 2, 2014

Oakwood cheerleaders place first

OAKWOOD —  It’s been a while since Oakwood Junior High School sent cheerleaders to a competition. So, last weekend’s first-place championship in their division was especially exciting.

The seventh- and eighth-grade Knights Cheerleading Team took a first place and the Spirit Award during the 2014 Illini Challenge Cheer Competition in Champaign on Jan. 26.

“They were excited,” coach Shelly Knee said of the girls’ reaction to the win. “I think they did great.”

Knee said she used to coach cheerleading, but she quit a while ago. This is her first year back as a coach, and she and her daughter, Lexie, took the team to the competition.

A total of four junior high schools competed.

After the 16-girl team won first place, they competed against four high school teams. They were beat out by a high school varsity squad.

Knee said the high school girls do stunts and moves that aren’t allowed on the junior high level, and so there’s no comparison between the two groups. The Oakwood girls were 2/10 of a point away from fourth place in that competition, she said.

Heather Wheaton, a parent, said, “They all did an outstanding job. Their hard work, dedication and countless hours truly paid off.”

Wheaton’s daughter, Katelyn Blankenship, a seventh-grader, is a member of the cheerleading team.

Dedicated teacher

Wheaton also had high praise for Dave Parker, a language arts teacher at the junior high and a coach for boys and girls basketball. He was at the competition to show his support for the cheerleading team.

“He is very dedicated to these kids — even if it’s not his sport to coach, he is always there to show his support,” she said. “He is a wonderful teacher that all the kids look up to.”

After winning the junior high championship, the cheerleaders huddled around Parker for a pep talk in preparation for the grand championship.

“He is a great leader and has a heart that truly cares about the success and future of each and every student,” Wheaton said.

“It was so heartfelt to see him there. It was so touching to see someone who cares so much about his students.”

Parker puts in extra hours before and after school, coaching and tutoring students. It’s good to see a teacher who goes above and beyond his duties, Wheaton said.

Six of the cheerleaders, including Katelyn, are on the basketball team, she said.


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