The Tigers' boys basketball team took second at 2A State last week, but combined efforts of the St. John-Hudson USD 350 cheer team, pep band and home crowd earned the top prize in the sportsmanship competition.
The St. John-Hudson High School was awarded the 2018-2019 State Sportsmanship Award by Kansas State High School Activities Association (KSHSAA) after the Tiger boys basketball team competed in the state tournament in Dodge City. The award is based on the principle of “Win with character and lose with dignity.”
"Thank you cheerleaders and pep band for keeping the crowd involved in the game in a positive and encouraging way," said USD 350 Superintendent Josh Meyer.
A special sportsmanship committee appointed by the KSHSAA evaluated and rated the cheerleaders, school cheering section, adult and non-high school followers, team and coach of each school at the state tournament in selecting award winners, according to information posted on the KSHSAA website.
St. John Cheer Team Cheer Coach Stephanie Smith said the St. John Cheer Team was excited to yell for their Tigers at the 2019 State Basketball Championship game March 6 at the United Wireless Arena in Dodge City.
“This is St. John’s second consecutive year to win,” Smith said. “On behalf of the cheer team, I’m super-excited.”
After losing five of seven members to graduation last year, this school year the cheer team had to start from scratch, Smith said.
“We struggled in the beginning with five new members,” said Smith. “It was a year of rebuilding, but they prevailed.”
Prevailing was accomplished through sometimes 4-hour practice sessions held weekends during the school year.
This year’s cheer team members included two seniors –head cheerleader Brittney Schrag and Shayla Garcia; three juniors -- Whitney Brummer, Baylee Schrag and America Fernandez; two sophomores --- Emma Koelsch and Luis Holguin; and two freshmen -- Lexie Brummer and Kaylynn Claussen.
Holguin, who is noted for his acrobatics, was one of two cheer team tumblers. Brummer is the second.
“They both do a fabulous job,” Smith said.
Holguin started out as mascot when he transferred to St. John USD 350 in eighth grade and then made it on the team as a freshman. He is the only male member of this year’s cheer team, but Smith said there have been other male cheer team members in the past.
The St. John cheer team was seen on the football field as well as the basketball court this year. Their schedule included 2-to-3 performances a year, along with two “Little Kids Cheer Camps,” Smith said.
Cheers at games are spontaneous pertaining to the action at hand, according to Smith, who has been coaching the St. John Cheer Team for 6 years. She joined the school staff in 2014, currently also serving as administrative assistant.
“I’m not the only cheer coach in my family,” Smith said. “Last year my oldest daughter Alyson Smith, became the junior high cheer coach.”
Try-outs for both high school and junior high 2019-2020 cheer teams are scheduled for this Saturday at the St. John High School gym.
“It’ll be a good competition,” Smith said.
Smith takes pride in the St. John Cheer Team’s history.
“I’ve had a few St. John Cheer Team members go on to cheer in college and one even became a cheer coach, too,” Smith said.
Cheer athletes can secure scholarships just like other sport athletes.