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Whitney digs in for the upcoming 2011 season

Jr Wildcats are ready for football and cheer
By: Jim Linsdau Placer Herald Sports Editor
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Many of the Jr. USA Football and Cheer organizations have worked hard to build a feeder program relationship with their local high schools; the Whitney Jr. Wildcats established that relationship right out of the chute. Whereas some organizations can get bogged down in trying to reinvent the wheel, the Jr. Wildcats went straight to the source from the beginning. They approached Whitney High School and head football coach Michael Gimenez and established a partnership right from the start. ?We?ve been really lucky,? said Jr. Wildcats board president Christopher Herren. ?This is our fourth year of existence and our relationship with the high school has been very strong and healthy since the beginning.? The Jr. Wildcats have been growing by leaps and bounds as well. Starting with fewer numbers in 2008, the football turnout has jumped to over 180, and the cheer division is approaching 100. Director of football, Jeff Cavarra, said having the assistance of coach Gimenez and his staff has really helped the ball teams develop quickly. Cavarra said he talks to Gimenez about three times a week to ask questions and make certain the junior clubs are on the right track. ?It?s grown a lot since the first few years,? Cavarra said. ?I?ve been involved with a lot of youth organizations and this is by far the best run; not due to me, but due to the volunteers.? Terri Burns has been a cheer volunteer and coach since the group?s inception and the excitement for 2011 was apparent in her voice. The cheer program, too, has a solid relationship with the high school, and some of the Thunder cheerleaders serve as assistant coaches. She said it didn?t happen all at once, when she took over as the Mascot coach in 2008, she had only four girls. This year she heads up the Jr. PeeWee?s squad and has 15 performers on her team. Burns said the Jr. Wildcats? rapid rise to prominence was because of community support. ?We really rely heavily on the volunteers and parents that make up the organization,? said Burns, who said the coaches were also good friends. ?Knowing everybody in that tight knit community, it?s created success here.? But it was a challenge, as Jr. Wildcats vice president Mark Nishita pointed out. However, he said the community was ready to enter USA Football and Cheer. He said potential coaches came forward and helped the Jr. Wildcats become competitive in a very short time. Cavarra said the jamboree showed the football teams were ready to make their mark in the Sierra Valley League. ?It is pretty common in youth football some of the associations that we compete against are top level organizations,? said Cavarra. ?(We) struggled a bit in the (earlier) scrimmage, but I was really encouraged, I think everybody was, by the jamboree on Saturday.? E-mail Placer Herald Sports at jiml@goldcountrymedia.com