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A cheerful recovery

ACL injury hasn’t stopped Granite Bay senior from pursuing college dream
By: Lauren Weber, The Press-Tribune
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Cheerleading is what Janelle Brown of Granite Bay excels in – it’s a sport that fits her bouncy personality and positive attitude. As a senior in high school, she has worked hard to reach her goal to cheer in college, but not without an unexpected twist. Brown had her mind set on attending University of Oregon in the fall and becoming a member of their 13-woman stunt squad. But after a powder puff football game in March that resulted in a torn ACL for Brown, she feared her chance of making the college cheer team was slim. Cheerleading has been a huge part of her life since she was 8 years old. She has been a cheerleader for teams in school while cheering competitively on the side, strengthening her stunting skills. “It’s a big part of me,” she said. Brown said she watches sporting games and naturally cheers, even when she’s not in uniform. “When I was little, I had a lot of energy,” she said. Brown learned to channel that energy into cheerleading and served as the varsity captain for the Granite Bay High School cheerleading team this year. Brown applied to University of Oregon in October last year and was accepted two months later. In February, she attended a clinic in Oregon, anticipating cheerleading tryouts in April. But during a powder puff football game a month before tryouts, Brown was left with a torn ACL. “Her spirits were super shot,” said Bri Larson, Brown’s cheerleading coach at Granite Bay High School. Larson has coached Brown for six years, knows her strengths and describes her as “super, super talented.” “She’s just a blessing to coach,” Larson said. “She’s played a major role in the success of the Granite Bay High School cheer team.” Initially, Brown thought her chances of making the team were shot, but she continued to vie for the team. She sent in a video to the coaches sharing her cheerleading skills, community service work and her personality through a self-interview. “We showed a lot of persistence,” she said. “I was fighting for it.” In April, a few days after tryouts were held, Brown received a call welcoming her to the team. “I was shocked,” she said as her eyes lit up and a smile stretched across her face. Since her injury, Brown underwent surgery and has been in recovery mode, stretching and relearning cheer skills through physical therapy, and will be recuperating up until the cheerleading season begins at the University of Oregon. The excitement of not only entering college but also becoming a college cheerleader, is keeping her focused. Laraine Raish, the head cheerleading coach at Univer-sity of Oregon, remembered Brown from the college prepar-atory clinic held before tryouts and something about her skills and personality caught the coach’s eye. “She was pretty outstanding,” she said. “She just has everything that we’re looking for.” More than 100 people tried out for the team and Brown was one of 14 chosen to join either the dance squad or stunt squad – Brown was chosen to join the stunt squad. Although Raish admits to being hesitant about Brown’s injury, the medical staff will continue working with her until she is fully recovered. “We’re still concerned,” Raish said. “I don’t want to push her.” During her high school years, Brown averaged more than 10 hours a week of cheer practice and devoted many after-practice hours to perfect her skill by taking tumbling classes as well. And come September, Brown will be rooting for the Ducks of University of Oregon. “She’s just an above and beyond kid,” Larson said. “She never settles for anything but the best.”