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Rugby cheers in Hawaii

By Staff | Jun 17, 2016

Elizabeth Skjelver, Aimee York and Hannah Hoffert in their cheer uniforms

Three Rugby cheerleaders are on their way to Hawaii next week for CheerHawaiiUSA, a national college preparatory cheer camp that runs June 22-29 at the University of Hawaii. The camp, which focuses on college prep cheer instructions, team building and sportsmanship, provides cheerleaders with lessons in cheer motion and spirit, dance, stunting and building leadership skills.

The selection process includes asking the girls questions about their extracurricular, school and community activities. A huge requirement to be invited to the camp is that each cheerleader must obtain a high GPA. In order to qualify for application, each cheerleader’s coach must first be nominated. Only two coaches in North Dakota were nominated this year, and Coach Ashley Stricker of Rugby High School was one of them. Cheerleaders from over thirty states will be represented at the camp next week. Out of hundreds of applicants, only 124 total were chosen.

Hannah Hoffert, Aimee York and Elizabeth Skjelver have made the cut. Skjelver was accepted with High Honors, meaning that her application stood out because of her volunteer experience, background in the music and the arts, as well as various STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Math] competitions. Skjelver will have the opportunity to attend a separate leadership seminar during the week at the University of Hawaii.

There are four rounds of auditions for CheerHawaiiUSA. Hoffert, York and Skjelver were chosen in the first round to fill three of the 10 spots in their section. “This is a significant rarity,” Stricker said. “As a matter of fact, the director of the camp called me specifically because three girls from the same school being selected has only happened a handful of times.”

CheerHawaiiUSA is staffed with prestigious coaches, from former NFL cheer coaches to former NCAA level coaches. Other staff members include national champion cheerleaders and members of the University of Hawaii staff.

“In a conference call on Friday with all of the coaches and cheerleaders who will be attending, they had the opportunity to hear a little more about some of their coaches, such as the head cheer coaches at Penn State and the University of South Florida,” Danielle Skjelver, Elizabeth’s mother, said. “It is quite the opportunity to bring new skills back to their team here in Rugby.”

All three girls plan to continue cheerleading in college, which makes this camp a perfect opportunity for them to learn college-level cheering. “This is what the camp is prepping us for,” Hoffert said. “It’s prepping us for college.”

Cheerleading is not just about loud cheers and difficult stunts, but it is a bonding experience for the girls as well.

“My favorite part about cheerleading is how family-based it is. You really have to form a bond with the other girls and trust who is on the team holding you up in the air. We become a family,” Hoffert said.

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