Cheering at WHS: It’s a family thing

Published 6:15 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Washington JV cheerleaders Miranda Tyson (left) and Adriana Tyson (right) pose for a picture during the Washington Lil Pack Cheer Camp with nine-year old camper Kayla Wilson inside the Washington High School gymnasium. (WDN Photo/Brian Haines)

Cheerleading at Washington High School is a family thing, both literally and figuratively. For Pam Pack head cheer coach Anita Cutler, the goal is to foster her young pupils in a way that creates a family-type scenario for the team, and a nurturing atmosphere with the individual.
Cutler attempts to achieve this with the help of JV cheer coach Jenifer Walker, who also happens to be her niece. Aside from being family, they both share Big Blue bloodlines as Cutler graduated Washington in 1984, while Walker earned her degree in 2004. Together, they work hard to make the Washington cheerleaders to feel like a part of the their family on and off the playing field.
“We both are big on Pam Pack tradition and loyalty,” said Cutler. “It’s important to us to watch the program grow and thrive. … We remind them that everyone is watching them and we want them to be complete as people. We want them to have good grades, a good reputation and to represent their school and themselves with pride.”
Though it was the preseason, Cutler and Walker were already getting started on their mission as Washington held its fifth annual Lil’ Pack Cheer Clinic in which the JV and varsity cheerleaders teach girls 5-12-years old some of the fundamentals of cheerleading.
The clinic works on two fronts: it provides young children the opportunity to learn a new skill, while the WHS cheerleaders learn responsibility by watching and caring for the 30-something children that attended the one-day clinic. The campers will get a chance to show what they learned tonight during the Pam Pack’s home opener against Tarboro at 7 p.m.
“The children get a T-shirt and free admission for the first home game,” Cutler said. “Then at halftime, they will get to go out on the field and show some of the things they learned today with the Pam Pack cheerleaders.”
Cutler, who has been a cheer coach for 19 years, started coaching at Chocowinity High School before it became Southside, then transferred to Washington where she also teaches English. Walker, is in her second year coaching the JV team and is proving to be a quick study as the two teams work hand-and-hand.
“What we do is we compete all these girls together,” Cutler said. “Our JV girls don’t travel to away games, but they will cheer at all home games, while the varsity girls cheer at both the home games and away games. We do have a JV and varsity team, but there is a lot of crossover.”
This year’s varsity team features only nine cheerleaders, but Cutler said it is a strong leadership.
“Our captains are Briana Laws and Taylor Bradley and they are both seniors who have cheered all four years,” Cutler said.
Walker’s team also has quality leaders.
“We have three captains: Rebecca OMonde, Molly Hodges and Elizabeth Miller,” Walker said. “They’re very experienced and great leaders.”