Hagen, Hughes enjoy all-American experience

A pair of Muskie cheerleaders put an emphatic end to another season earlier this month, performing on a cruise ship that took them to the Cayman Islands.
While the Caribbean is a far cry from their usual surroundings inside the confines of gymnasiums in Northwestern Ontario and Manitoba, Melissa Hagen and Tanya Hughes said the trip was the perfect way to end their careers as Muskie cheerleaders.
Both were selected from a competition in Bemidji, Mn. last July that attracted more than 200 cheerleaders. Hughes and Hagen (the only two Canadians there) snared two of the 10 positions allotted to all-American status.
Each had to perform a series of jumps, tumbles, and cheers during a roughly two-minute routine in front of judges. After the competition, the pair were given the choice of performing at a U.S. college bowl game or on the cruise ship.
The pair chose the latter, noting they were trying to earn one of the three college scholarships up for grabs to the 50 or so cheerleaders on the seven-day cruise.
Although neither picked up the prestigious honour, both said it was a worthwhile trip–even though the price tag came in around $2,300 (U.S.) each.
A lot of that money was raised through fundraising efforts, including a car wash, bingo, a six-and-a-half hour walk to Emo that saw them take in money through pledges, and the help of friends and family.
“We’d really like to thank the sponsors in the area and the community for their support,” said Hughes, a co-captain of the Muskie squad this past season along with Hagen.
The pair said the Muskies improved “quite a bit” from the beginning of tryouts last season, placing first and then second at a pair of Winnipeg meets.
But the highlight of the season was winning a third-straight NorWOSSA title here. It was a nice cap to a season which will see the squad undergo a series of changes, including the departure of long-time head coach Joyce Scott.
The team will be coached by Sherin Hagen, assisted by Jan Gushulak. The pair will be in charge of picking next year’s team, which will begin with a two-week tryout camp next Tuesday.