By Chris Cox
Not many people get the opportunity to go home and work at their alma mater. Kari Schott not only works for Derby Public Schools, but she coaches the very same cheer team she cheered on when she was in high school.
While Schott has had a lot of different squads over her years coaching, says this year’s squad is unique because of its experience.
“On my varsity team, I have all returners,” she says. “This is the first year, in maybe forever, that we haven’t had a freshman make varsity. It’s a phenomenal group and they are outstanding.”
With a more experienced roster comes higher expectations. While she wants to see her team succeed in competition and in performances, most of Schott’s expectations are off the mat.
“My expectations are that we continue to sport the teams at Derby and are good community servants,” Schott says. “I want to be good community leaders and represent Derby High School in a positive manner. I always give them a hard time about cleaning up after themselves and leaving places better than they found it.”
This year’s team has lived up to those expectations. They recently finished a fundraiser where they raised over $600 for the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. They have also performed at nursing homes and done other service projects around the community.
Schott credits her seniors with leading this team and pushing Derby toward meeting the expectations she laid out.
“They are all very super selfless and have put the team first,” she says. “They want to be the best team they can be. They have done a good job of communicating with each other. They’ve made up dances, cheers, and things for pep assemblies. They also push the other to be the best they can be.”
Overall, Schott says this year’s group is confident, respectful, and happy.
“They like to have fun but still get work done,” she says. “They are very comfortable and confident with each another.”
The Derby Cheer squad includes Seniors: Kaydence Bale, Gracie Duran, Riley Manny, Nataya Osborne, and Hope Winton. Juniors: Brynlan Hull, Jamie Johnson, Elyssa Kreutzer, Siyera Miller, Kaitlyn Reid, Briana Roland, Alexis Stanton, Valerie Stubbs, and Alexis White. Sophomores: Keegan Little, Ana Self, Rylee Silva, Laila Ulmer, Jojo Valles, and Haven Wirsig. Freshmen: Adaelyn Chanthavong, Delaney Francis, Kylee Harris, Katya Hernandez, Emilina Phouthavong, Madi Reitmayer, and Kylee Shank.