By Yaneek Smith
Recently the Oak Harbor cheerleading squad competed at the Nancy Leaser Cheerleading Invitational, finishing in second place in the small varsity competition. On top of that, senior Taylor Blatt finished second in the individual competition, an impressive feat.
The 11-person team of Blatt, Lindsey & Lauren Dials, Haley Smith, Samantha Wilkins, Brenna Franck, Miranda Mayes, Ashley Roose, Kaylie Hallett-Szyzmanski, Kristin McElhaney and Chelsey Coester finished behind Whitmer, the champion, in the small varsity competition and finished ahead of Norwalk.
Team advisor Trisha Bauer was proud of her squad.
“I thought that the girls did really well,” Bauer, who teaches at the Junior High, said. “It was the best I’ve seen them perform the routine. We’ve been practicing the routine since July. They’ve been very committed. When they came off the mats on Saturday, I’ve never seen them so excited. After they were finished, I knew that each and every one of them gave their all. They were so excited, I’ve never seen them like that before. And I was very pleased to see that many people come out and support them. I know the girls were very pleased to have that support.”
Equally as impressive was Blatt’s performance in the individual routine.
“Taylor has told me that she was going to do an individual routine her senior year and I’m very proud of her,” Bauer said. “It takes a lot of guts to perform by yourself. I thought she did a fantastic job.”
The event, which saw roughly 25 squads perform, is named in honor of Mrs. Nancy Leaser, who tragically died in 1999 in a car accident. Mrs. Leaser, who passed away at the age of 50, was a member of the Benton-Carroll-Salem Board of Education, worked as the school’s cheerleading advisor for roughly 15 years and was known for her passion for and commitment to the study body in the Oak Harbor school system. She had two kids with her husband, Tom, sons Jameson and Andrew, and worked for 15 years at H.B.M. Health Care services in Oak Harbor.
In her honor, the proceeds from the event help to support the Oak Harbor cheerleading program.
“The money goes to support our cheerleading program,” Bauer said. “Any time we want to buy new uniforms, go to competitions, anything that we purchase, that’s basically our fundraiser. The mats that we use to hold our competition are very expensive, too.”