Nampa cheerleaders to perform at BCS Sugar Bowl

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by Scott Evans

NWCN.com

Posted on December 27, 2013 at 4:01 PM

Updated Saturday, Dec 28 at 2:17 AM

NAMPA – A group of 13 cheerleaders from Columbia High School is about to get the chance of a lifetime.

Columbia's varsity cheer squad was anonymously picked to perform at the Sugar Bowl in New Orleans on January 2.

For some, the trip marks the first time they'll travel on an airplane. For all, the experience will include the largest audience they've yet to perform in front of.

"It's so exciting," said cheerleader Kayla Jonas. "It's intimidating, definitely, but it's amazing, honestly."

The girls will be among thousands of young cheerleaders invited to the event.

"They had no idea what the Sugar Bowl was, they had no idea, so it was exciting for us,"  said Pauline Downey, who is an assistant coach. "We were excited to tell them about it, but we actually had to spell it out to let them know what it meant."

The girls found out about the anonymous nomination in June, and have spent the last six months raising money. The trip costs $2,000 per girl.

"That was really hard -- that was a lot of money," said Jonas. "But honestly, the community really helped us with this and they helped sponsor us, and they fund raised money for us as well, so that was really helpful."

Because the team hasn't won any cheerleading awards, they assume their anonymous nomination was because of the service they do in the community.

"It's good to give back," said co-captain Savanna Hendren. "All of these businesses have been sponsoring us for our uniform ... they've just helped us get the season started, so it's only right to give back and volunteer our time."

Their coaches have made it a point to help the girls reach out.

"Our platform is believe there is good in the world, or be the good. If we teach them nothing else, this is a cheer team and we have to be technical, but if we can teach them more about life in general," said Downey.

"If I can help them with that part of this experience, then it's paid off for me," said Downey.

Once in New Orleans, the girls will practice their routine and hopefully find enough time to see the city.

As for spotting the cheer squad on TV during their halftime performance, good luck, there are over a thousand performers, all wearing the same costume.

"So if they are able to find us or find our girls, it would be a diamond in the rough at that point," said Downey.

The girls leave bright and early Monday morning and perform Thursday night. They'll be home late Friday night.

The teams playing in this year's Sugar Bowl are Oklahoma and last year's BCS champion, Alabama.

This is the 80th year for the Sugar Bowl. The game is set for next Thursday 6:30 p.m. local time and will be televised on ESPN.

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