Cheer team wins big at first competition


The Stomp-N-Shake cheer team perfoms at a basketball game. The team has not had the chance to participate in competition until this year due to their unrecognized style.

The varsity cheer team won the 6A Traditional Large category at the Gladiator Cheer Challenge at Gladstone High School on Jan. 15. This was the first cheer competition McDaniel has attended since transitioning from traditional cheerleading to Stomp-N-Shake. 

Before entering the competition, junior varsity coach Melanie Guthrie and varsity head coach Sharlivia Slaughter attended a coaches’ conference last spring. 

“We met a bunch of coaches, and the coach from Gladstone knew what type of cheer we did and invited us to come out and do our type of cheer,” Slaughter explained. 

This was the first competition the cheer team took part in, so there were adjustments they had to make to their routines to earn more points from the judges. 

“So we had to say, ‘yell it with us’ in one of our cheers,” Slaughter described. “We also had to go from a two-line formation and split into three. We had to say, ‘Go McDaniel’ and smile, and engage the  crowd in certain things, and [we usually do more of a] serious performance.”

Varsity cheer captain Kaylee Truong spoke about other components the judges scored them on: sharpness, volume, and how they transition from one cheer to another. 

“Since that whole competition is mostly white cheerleaders, [the judges] expect a dance,” Truong said, “so they just take a point out because we don’t do that type of stuff.”

Because Stomp-N-Shake is a style of cheerleading that is just starting to gain popularity in Oregon, many competitions don’t have it as a category that teams can enter. This provided a set of disadvantages for the McDaniel cheer squad. 

“Stomp-N-Shake are culturally, originally done in HBCUs in the South, so it’s a lot of black people of color doing the cheers. That’s the style it came from,” varsity captain Lexi Skinner explained. “So coming to the West Coast, being a Stomp-N-Shake team, and being in a competition where [there’s] a lot of white people, there’s a lot of rules that wouldn’t apply to us because we don’t do the kind of cheer that they do.”

So there’s no category for us to ever win.

— Varsity coach Sharlivia Slaughter

Currently, Stomp-N-Shake is not recognized as a category in competitions in Oregon, but it is in Washington. Slaughter is working with other coaches in the Portland Interscholastic League to get “Stomp” recognized as a category for state tournaments. 

“In the state of Oregon, because there’s still no “Stomp” category, we’d have to still go in and do like tumbling and flips and stunting, and throwing each other in the air. And that’s not what we do,” Slaughter said. “So there’s no category for us to ever win. We can go and compete, but we will always lose until they add that category.”

Lots of hard work led up to the team’s performance.

“Listening to the captains, and the fact that [the team] practiced outside of practice to make sure it was clean for the competition,” were important parts of their success, Skinner explained. 

Everyone did their part to help the team win in their category. 

“I’m proud of how everyone grew out of their comfort zone,” Truong stated. 

To help bring their team out of their shells, the captains said the best things they could do were to encourage their teammates and push them out of their comfort zones. 

Skinner said she was most proud of seeing the team get really confident in themselves. 

“Just growing as people and changing I think is really great, because cheer makes everyone come out of their shell,” Skinner said.