What is a football or basketball game without its cheerleaders? They are a staple to the culture of these sports and essential in the life of any high school.
Over the years the role of a cheerleader has changed from the “Ra, Ra, Ree, kick ‘em in the knee” type of cheers on the sidelines to highly choreographed dances during timeouts and acrobatic routines at halftime of most games. Even though the uniforms haven’t changed that much over the years, the fact that boys are now a part of these teams is making cheer not just a female activity.
Plus, just a couple years ago the California Interscholastic Federation (CIF) began to recognize cheer as a high school sport. And, these teams are doing much more than cheering at varsity and junior varsity games. There are now huge cheer contests in which the teams are performing their routines in front of judges and, sometimes, several hundred spectators.
Of course, cheer starts for many young people at age five and six. Locally, most cheer organizations operate right alongside of junior football programs. Like football, the cheerleaders get several years of experience before they reach high school.
Like so many other activities for high schoolers, the young people in the under-served communities don’t quite get the opportunity at young ages to cheer. One woman who knows that too well is Sasha Agent-Marrier, a young woman who cheered for the Laguna Creek Jr. Cardinals, graduated from Laguna Creek High School in 2000 and then continued her cheerleading into her adult life.
She is returning to the area Oct. 23 to host the second annual intoMOTION Cheer and Dance Clinic at El Camino High School. Thanks to some business donations, students from Title I schools will be able to attend the clinic for a minimal cost.
Like so many who have participated in sports professionally and returned to give back, Agent-Marrier is excited to return to Sacramento where several family members still reside.
She is now teaching special education classes at the middle school level in the Dallas area, married and has two daughters. In between Laguna Creek and her teaching in Dallas, Agent-Marrier has seen the heights of cheer on the professional level.
For four years she was a member of the Sacramento Kings’ dance team and then to fulfill a dream, she moved to Dallas, tried out and then performed with the infamous Dallas Cowboys Cheerleaders for two NFL seasons.
“I wanted to get back into pro cheer and at the time was already 26, didn’t know where I fit in, didn’t know if I wanted to stay in California and try out for the 49ers’ ‘Gold Rush’ so then I decided I wanted to finish out my professional career with a bang and go with a very prestigious organization and ended up moving to Dallas,” Agent-Marrier said.
She moved to Texas in 2010, found the teaching job she currently holds and then a year later tried out for the Cowboys’ cheerleaders.
“At the time I wondered being a single mom and a little older if I’d be able to pull it off,” she recalled.
She did and ended up having a great experience with the NFL club.
“It was pretty amazing,” she remarked. “They are pretty iconic. Their uniform itself is pretty recognizable worldwide. And, they have that reality (TV) show that’s horrifying to watch but sucks you in.”
In fact, Agent-Marrier made a cameo on the show recently.
“I was featured recently because they sponsored a fashion show and made an appearance on the show for that,” she explained.
Now, four years removed from pro cheer, Agent-Marrier is enjoying being a mom, teaching and she’s also a cheer coach at her school. She’s looking forward to returning later this month and help with the clinic at El Camino.
“I’m looking forward to re-uniting with some of my high school teammates,” she said. “I look forward to returning to experience the consistency of normal weather.”
She’s coming to El Camino to help a long-time friend, Erica Oswald, who is reaching out to a new generation of cheerleaders.
“Both of us have the same passion reaching kids to who really don’t have the opportunity financially to do a lot of cheerleading,” Agent-Marrier said. “It’s pretty expensive. (Oswald) is making (the one-day clinic) affordable for families.”
When she’s not teaching or coaching Agent-Marrier runs a fashion blog, SashaAgent.com.
“It’s a way to promote my style and collaborate with a lot of companies to promote their products,” she explained. “It’s a fun way to also include my daughters, dressing up and having fun posting suits on social media.”
To register for the cheer clinic on Oct. 23, go online to intomotioncoaching.com/cheer.
Larson out of
Elk Grove NASCAR driver Kyle Larson was eliminated from “The Chase,” the Sprint Cup circuit’s version of the post-season, on Sunday after a 25th place finish at the race at Dover, Del.
Larson was right on the bubble to either make the top 12 that would advance on or be eliminated. He needed to finish in the top ten Sunday to assured of moving forward. His spot in the Chase was handed over to Austin Dillon.
“Nice Christmas present for Austin there,” he told the media following the race.
In lap 38 Sunday his car completely lost power. He rolled it into the pits and the mechanics got it started again, but too many crew members went over the wall and thus, Larson had to serve a pass-through penalty.
“I guess my whole stock car career kind of piled up into the first 50 laps there with bad luck,” Larson lamented. “We probably would have been all right if we didn’t have too many men over the wall because we only lost a lap getting the battery back going good and then I had to do the drive-through and lost another two laps.”
Some NASCAR writers thought Larson was a dark horse to win the Sprint Cup championship this year.
“We have good speed with our race team and the Target Chevrolet is fast week in and week out,” Larson said. “So I can still run for a top-five in points. I think I can finish fifth at best. So, we are going to try and do everything we can to do that or at least try and finish as high up as we can and get a couple wins.”
Thank you to Big Papi
I was in Boston earlier this week and picked up a copy of Monday’s Boston “Globe,” one of the nation’s great newspapers. One of my favorite columnists is Dan Shaughnessy who has been a fixture at the “Globe” for years. He wrote a long story about David Ortiz who played in his final regular season game Sunday for the Red Sox after 14 seasons.
I saw “Big Papi” when he was a young slugger with the Minnesota Twins in the late 90’s and thought he had some promise, but had no idea he would do anythng close to what he has with Boston. He finished his career 17th all-time in home runs (541) and tenth in doubles (632). He’s on his way the Hall of Fame, especially with a resume that includes two (and perhaps three) World Series rings.
On a tour of Boston Monday we passed right outside Fenway Park. Our tour guide lamented it’s too expensive now to go to a Red Sox game. Tickets for the bleachers above their famed left-field wall, “The Green Monster,” is $147 apiece. If you are silly enough to drive to Fenway (streets in Boston are real narrow) you’re paying at least $40 to park it. And, the guide added, the concessions are real expensive.
It ain’t cheap to attend MLB games any more anywhere.