Practice. Game. Rally. Practice. Game. Demeris Athey, head cheerleading coach, takes charge of it all. For the past 20 years, she has been charge of the cheer program but last year, Athey decided to step down as head coach. Yet one year after her retirement, she has returned and taken back her authoritative position.
Originally, Athey retired to spend more time with her family and to explore new hobbies. She decided to reconnect with old friends and bring back new passions that she had forgotten.
“I thought 25 years of coaching was enough time for me to devote to other people’s children and that it was time for me to start traveling and trying out new things,” said Athey. “I wanted to find new passions and spend time with my young grandchildren.”
But soon after her departure, Athey was asked to return as the freshman coach and this year, reclaimed her position as head of the program.
“The program was struggling,” said Athey.
Athey said that now that she has an empty nest, as all of her children have left home. She ended up with more time than she knew what to do with.
“I came back because I was needed and felt that I had way too much time on my hands,” said Athey.
As a cheer coach, Athey’s main job is to prepare the cheerleaders to complete their job: supporting the sports teams.
Athey said “Preparing for rallies is hard and stressful because we want the whole school to be proud of our performance.”
However, for games, the cheerleaders are there for the people on the field.
“If we make a mistake out there, it isn’t a problem because we are doing our job,” said Athey.
“There is no way I could choose a favorite memory, there’s too many,” said Athey. And after 25 years of coaching altogether, a lot of these memories come from the same things: squad bonding.
Each year, the cheerleaders go to camp at UC Santa Cruz and the Varsity team goes to Tahoe and Disneyland. These bonding sessions are a chance to bring all of the squads closer together.
Athey’s least favorite memories come from tryouts.
“I am put in an awkward position because the judges make the decision of who is on the team, but I have to enforce their decision,” said Athey.
Athey continues to pursue her outside interests which includes taking a ceramics class in the evening with ceramic teacher, Rene Worley. She goes on hikes with her two grandsons and collects seaglass.
Athey also antiques.
“I go to flea markets and find discarded things people don’t know are valuable. I buy them for a dollar and then sell them for more on craigslist,” said Athey.
Athey intends to continue to coach for the next few years but will retire in the near future.