This year the Artesia Bulldog Cheerleaders are under new leadership, which has resulted in the reorganization of several aspects of the team’s structure.
Cydnee Widner, new head cheer coach, relocated to Artesia this year with her husband and family from Melrose, where she helped lead that squad to two state runner-up titles. Widner graduated from Lovington High School, where she cheered from the eighth grade until graduation.
Her ninth-grade year, she moved up to the varsity team and earned the title of captain during that and all successive years of her high school career. She continued to cheer during her college years at New Mexico State University until becoming an athletic trainer at Portales High School.
Widner is assisted by Sabrina Roybal, an Artesia native and member of the state-winning squads of 2008 and 2009. Roybal cheered during college at Eastern New Mexico University. In 2010, she began coaching youth cheerleading, which she has taught in Artesia the past four years.
Because Widner and Roybal are the only cheerleading coaches for both Park Junior High School and Artesia High School, they have adjusted several structural components of Bulldog Cheerleading. This year, Park does not officially have a cheerleading program. Instead, the coaches are planning to create Varsity and Junior Varsity competition teams with the 48 ninth- through twelfth-graders who are on the team this year.
Roybal explained that the loss of the junior high program had presented an opportunity to create the two teams, which will allow the girls to start competing earlier than before, better preparing them for success when they reach the Varsity team.
The coaches have also instituted a number of standards sure to bring the best out of the team as a whole. In order to hold the captain’s position this year, any interested party had to submit an essay with letters of recommendation and undergo an interview given by a community member. The interviews were held the afternoon of the first day of school, and ten girls applied for the position. The four selected captains will be announced at the first home game.
All cheerleaders must meet a standard, called being “track ready” before participating fully in gameday cheering, meaning they have memorized all necessary material.
The team itself has gained new members from other states and counties. One notable transfer is Zoey Kiser, who twice won the state championship for jumping in Utah.
The size of the squad has sparked creativity in fundraising this year, as the team is in need of at least one set of uniforms that all members can wear at the same time. In addition to the annual football season t-shirt sale, the Artesia Bulldog Cheer Boosters, led by President Vanessa Troost, will be offering to businesses the ability to sponsor games.
Any business who sponsors a game will have their logo placed on the breakthrough banner and two smaller banners that will be displayed at the game, as well as logo placement on mini footballs, t shirts and rally towels. The business will also be thanked by the cheerleaders and over the intercom system during the sponsored game.
Some sponsors will receive a retired uniform as thanks for their support.
Of course, the most exciting fundraiser the cheerleader’s hold is the annual cheer camp, when young cheerleaders have the chance to learn cheers during camp and then perform on the track at the Bulldog Bowl.
Troost shared with the Daily Press her excitement “to have a fresh new start” and her belief in this year’s coaching staff’s ability to help the squad reach new heights.
Any individuals or businesses interested in supporting the Artesia Bulldog Cheerleaders can reach out to Troost at 575-703-5139.