Wildkat cheerleaders continue to catch honors

The Craig Wildkat cheer squad had to make space on its already-crowded wall full of honors this month as the younger team, known as the Kittens, was honored in the Summer 2002 edition of American Cheerleader Junior magazine. The team was recognized for its second-place performance at the Jamz Nationals in February.

"Placing like we did and getting recognized in a national magazine is nice," said Dawn Rader, owner and head coach of the squad. "I hope that it will make us even more known through the community and promote us."

"The people who see it will know we're famous," added Latana Riley, 7, who is in her fourth year of cheering for the Kittens.

"If you look at the big picture it is pretty amazing how well we have been able to do," said Rader. "Squads in the big cities probably have from 100 or so girls to cut and choose from. Everyone that comes to us is on the squad."

The girls practice all year around and they are currently preparing for a performance at the 9-11 NY Education Ride when it stops in Craig June 27. Looking further ahead, the team will travel to Denver on Aug. 24.

"Practice gives us something to do," said Tawni Brenner, 10. "I was bored and asked my mom if I could be a cheerleader. I'm glad I did."

Rader said the team is a perennial Colorado powerhouse with three straight state championships, but winning is not the first priority.

"I would like to get a jacket (earned by national champions)," she said.

"But most important is that the girls stay healthy and are having fun."

It appears the goals that Rader and her staff have set are being met the amount of smiles in the practice room outnumbers the trophies on the wall.

"It is a lot of fun," said Alex Lopez, 12. "I especially like basing and lifting up the other girls."

Lifting up, either in the air or in spirit, appears to be working for the Wildkats and Kittens.

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