Moffat County cheerleaders ready to get crowds on their feet |

Moffat County cheerleaders ready to get crowds on their feet

The sport of cheerleading isn't measured in points scored when the team is active, rather the kind of energy they can inspire in others as they head toward victory. The Moffat County High School cheer team contributed greatly to this during the fall, and as schedules begin anew after a seasonal break, they'll be bringing the high spirits again.

The Moffat County cheerleaders will be hard to miss this winter as they boost the crowd's morale amid the basketball games. In addition to the routines that pumped up spectators during the football games, coach Britany Nielson said elements of dance will also be on display this season.

Now in her second year coaching in Craig, Nielson oversees the combined cheer teams of MCHS and Craig Middle School, which has helped her put together a program that ensures younger participants will be ready for another level without too much change.

"They don't have that gap when they go from the middle school to high school, and the transition is a lot easier for them," she said. "I've got some eighth-graders now I'm hoping will be able to make the team as freshmen."

However, making the team in middle school doesn't necessarily guarantee a spot on the roster at MCHS, and Nielson has some high standards for who joins.

Recommendations from teachers help her determine who's serious academically as well as focused on giving their full effort to the team.

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"As a cheerleader, you're representing your school, and you can't get benefits like pep rallies if you don't get good grades," she said.

The most difficult part of coaching can be getting team members in sync, and Nielson said she's not against giving out demerits if necessary.

"A lot of people think, 'Oh, I can do a cheer, just tell me what it is, and I can do it,'" Nielson said. "It's not all about knowing the cheers, it's about being on a team and being able to work with everyone. Even if they're not friends in class, they need to be friends on the team. Those are the kinds of skills they need to learn."

In a sport that requires good teamwork to be effective, Nielson said all her girls make up a bright and cooperative group, and team captain Jodi Fortune exemplifies the "leader" portion of the activity.

"She's always willing to lead and guide them by example," Nielson said.

The squad is made up of eight girls, one of whom, Britney Rothermund, rejoined cheer for the winter after playing volleyball in the fall. Though all have different experience levels, the group that also includes Fortune, Katie Bohne, Katie Haskins, Jazzmine Piatt, Cassidy Griffin, Marlayna Sparger and Laura Bolton has come together well and seeks to repeat and improve on their fall performance.

For Bolton, an MCHS freshmen who started cheer in eighth-grade, the most exciting part has been getting to go on the road to cheer, with the cheerleaders accompanying football throughout the season, including the state playoff game in Brush.

"It's just fun working with all the girls and helping each other," Bolton said.

As for Nielson, Bolton could only say rah-rah-rah about her coach.

"She's just the best coach I could ever have," Bolton said.

Contact Andy Bockelman at 970-875-1793 or or follow him on Twitter @CDP_Sports.