by Marina Croy (CCHS senior)
In 2007, Becky Abbott graduated from Cascade Christian High School. Today, she remains involved with Cascade Christian as an alumni, coach, and parent. Coming from a Cascade family, with sisters graduating from CCHS and parents on the school board, Abbott remarks that she spent much of her childhood and adolescence at Cascade High School. Becky Abbott is a former member of the Cascade Christian High School Cheer team as well! Even today, Coach Becky is far more involved with Grace Cascade schools than the average alumni parent. She has two kids at Grace Christian Elementary School and on top of all of this, is the coach of the Cascade Christian Cheer team, which is rapidly climbing its way to one of the best Competitive Cheer teams in the Rogue Valley.
Becky Abbott still vividly remembers the annual homecoming day parade that took place on the old Jacksonville campus. The brightly colored purple and gold cars, the Cheerleading float that she and her teammates rode, and the energetic students who wound their ways through the streets of the town is her favorite high school memory. Coach Becky said that it was a kind of “dream” to coach Cheer-leading at her alma mater, but for the first few years of her professional coaching career, she coached at public schools such as Crater High School. While she acclimated quickly to coaching at large public high schools, Coach Becky recalls that she always coveted the chance to have the “awesome challenge” to make a small school cheer program, like Cascade Christian, into something great. In the smaller division of 1A/2A/3A schools, Coach Abbott remarks that there is a better chance to be able to “build a program from the ground-up”, in contrast to a school like Crater High School, where many of the athletes that try out for Cheer have high levels of experience. By accomplishing the feat of creating a Cheer team from scratch, Abbott wanted to make a name for Cascade Christian High School in the Cheer Community, in an athletic sense and as a “light on a hill” that witnesses to others. Yet from 2008 to 2012, Becky Abbott saw that the CCHS team was not necessarily striving, and had less and less girls coming out each year. In addition, the CCHS Cheer team no longer competed, which was a vital part of the program when Coach Abbott was a cheerleader herself in 2007. Although she was still coaching at public schools during this time, Abbott hoped she could help the Cascade Christian High School Cheer Team become serious, competitive, and respected once more. She began to seriously consider the idea of coming back to Cascade, not merely to fulfill a personal dream but to create something amazing.
Coach Becky wanted to bring back competitive and athletic values, as well as instill the attributes of love, character, and integrity in each cheerleader.
Stating that she felt called ¨to come home to Cascade¨, Coach Abbott took a leap of faith and stepped down from her position coaching at a public school. Seemingly immediately, an opportunity to coach at Cascade Christian High School opened up! Coach Abbott described all of her feelings at this opportunity in a simple phrase: “Challenge accepted.” Now, Coach Becky Abbott has become a huge influencer and supporter of the athletics program at Cascade. One of her goals is to make the competitive Cheer team at Cascade on the same level as the Cascade Christian Challenger Volleyball or Challenger Basketball team, but an even more vital goal she has is to demonstrate to each cheerleader the importance and possibility of finding a family in any group of teammates, peers, or coworkers they may join. Thanks to Coach Becky’s good-natured spirit and rallying of support, the faculty, teachers, and even a majority of the student body have formed a community that is highly supportive of the Cheer team. Coach Abbott knows that she could go to any faculty member and freely ask for prayer and support, and she would offer the same for any that approached her. Abbott encourages her team to do events for the school and raise support and school spirit around the school as well. In her words, the Cascade Christian Cheer team is “taking the lead in what a team family should look like.”
While the importance of family, service, and community is a primary goal of Coach Becky and the CCHS Cheer team, making a name for themselves is also a goal. Community service and school spirit can make a program more respectable, but what truly catches the attention of the Cheerleading community (like any sport) is competition. Ever since Coach Abbott has come to Cascade, she has reinstated the tradition of going to Cheerleading State Competition each year. When asked if she would suggest joining Cheer to a new student coming to Cascade, Coach Abbott’s answer was an energetic “Yes!”- and not necessarily for the reason one would think. Freely admitting that she cares more about the “experience” rather than “numbers” of girls that try out, Becky Abbott has taken her team to State with as few as nine girls on the Varsity squad. What she wants is not only to build up the Cheerleading team, but to build up each Cheerleader who is on the team. She says that she does not want any potential Cheerleaders to miss out on the fun, intense, and wild experience that is the Cheer team. Often, she remarks a bit sadly, cheerleaders who join the team as Juniors and Seniors come to her and ask why they did not join the Cheer squad sooner! Of course, Coach Abbott is extremely competitive and will always welcome a talented new team member with open arms; recently, the program has boomed to include 20 girls overall. Coach Becky says that thanks to social media outreach and the enthusiastic effort made at the Cheerleading State Competition in 2017 (Cascade Christian placed 2nd), other teams are taking notice of Cascade’s Cheer program.
¨Character, athletic excellence, and an opportunity to be bigger than yourself¨- that is what the Cascade Cheer team is all about,
according to Coach Becky Abbott.
Living up to these standards, the CCHS Cheer team is pushing for high goals this year, like a State Championship and even an invitation to Nationals. Fortunately, they have Becky Abbott in their corner, who is working hard to make their goals a reality.