PORTLAND - Recently 43 young ladies from grades two through six did a dance routine at the Portland Rose Garden at halftime of the Trail Blazer game. The Peninsula Youth Pee Wee Football Cheerleaders, under the direction of Sheryl Schisler, entertained at an NBA game for the second consecutive year.
Schisler, a former Blazer Dancer herself, was able to use her contacts with the team cheerleaders in order to secure the invitation for the young, aspiring squad members.
"Five years ago Kris Kaino was instrumental in starting a Pee Wee Football League here and his wife, Jaymi, wanted something for the young girls to do, so she began the cheerleading program," Schisler said.
At first the boys outnumbered the girls by a considerable margin, but that's not the case now.
"This year there were quite a few more girls than guys in the program," she said. "The cheerleading team numbers just keep getting bigger and bigger."
According to Schisler, the trip to the Blazers game is a big draw for the young ladies, and they hit it off with the Blazer Dancers right away, bonding like little and big sisters.
"Of course, there isn't the physical contact in cheerleading there is in football," Schisler said. "And the uniforms are much easier to move around in."
Sheryl was picked to be a Blazer Dancer in 1991, but just before the first game, Trade Shows Northwest offered her a more lucrative job as a dancer. She worked with them for eight years, entertaining at various events in the Pacific Northwest.
"I began cheerleading and dancing when I was in the fourth grade," she said, "and eventually I was a cheerleader at Columbia River High School in Vancouver."