April Kratcha started her cheerleading career during her freshman year at Langdon Area High School. The recent Cardinal grad has plans to continue her cheerleading in the fall but was able to attend one of the nation’s best cheerleader camps this summer.
By Melissa Anderson
Pictured is April Kratcha, second from right in front row, with her Team Humuhumunukunukuapua’a at Cheer Hawaii USA.
CheerHawaii USA is an invitational college prep cheer instruction held at the University of Hawaii on the island of Oahu. The camp focuses on three main areas: building cheer skills and preparing for the college level, growth in leadership, and experiencing the Hawaiian culture. The camp is open to current sophomores, juniors and seniors. This year, the camp hosted 168 cheerleaders in total from across the United States. Kratcha was not the lone North Dakotan there as Zoe Agnes and Sylvia Straight from Mayport CG High School and Lauren Voeller from Rugby High School also attended.
“I saw this opportunity, and I knew I couldn’t turn it down. The fact that you had to be chosen for the camp made it appealing to me. Not everyone gets to go. You have to earn the privilege to go,” Kratcha explained.
After seeing an advertisement online for the camp, Kratcha reviewed how to apply for it. In order for Kratcha to participate, she had to first be nominated by her coach, Alyssa Plummer. The camp directors then determine if nominees are qualified to attend with the selection being based off of good basic cheer skills, leadership abilities, desire to improve and learn, excellence in academics, and positive attitude.
“I wanted to go because I saw this as an opportunity to improve my skills and learn new things about cheerleading,” Kratcha said. “I also wanted to go because I enjoy traveling. I had never been to Hawaii before, and this was a great opportunity to experience Hawaii.”
The selection and application process completed the next step for Kratcha to make it to the camp. She also had to have the money. She was able to fundraise and received donations from the following sponsors: American Legion Post 98, Brekke Aviation in Edmore, Choice Bank, Langdon Eagles Club, Richard’s Welding in Osnabrock, R. Scott Stewart, True Beauty, and United Communications.
“[They] helped sponsor this trip, but I also paid a lot of money out of pocket,” Kratcha explained
Over the course of the camp, Kratcha learned how to hula as well as a lot of new cheers, chants, and dances. Some of those sets included co-ed stunting, something Kratcha had never experienced before. All of the learning came from top notch teachers as well with coaches from Pennsylvania State University, University of South Florida, and University of Hawaii in attendance as instructors.
“Those universities have some of the best cheerleading programs in the country. It was a honor to learn from the best.”
This unique experience also provided Kratcha the chance to submerse herself in Hawaiian culture. While at the camp Kratcha visited some of the best sites that Honolulu has to offer including: Pearl Harbor, Polynesian Cultural Center, Kailua Beach, Waikiki Beach, and North Shore. What trip is complete without shopping? Kratcha also had the opportunity to shop at the Aloha Stadium Swap Meet.
“I met and made friends with so many amazing people. It was so awesome to see and meet people from all over the United States,” Kratcha said. “It’s crazy to see all the talent that’s out there.”
Kratcha shared one aspect of the camp that was surprising and memorable as one of the camp directors went out of their way and tried to introduce themselves to everyone. Alan Akina, one of the camp directors, came up to Kratcha and spoke with her personally.
“Every time he saw me he’d greet me and remember that I was from North Dakota. That’s definitely something special. It’s not often that you have someone who genuinely cares about and wants to get to know every single person, personally, especially when there’s 168 people there,“ Kratcha stated.
“I hope more Langdon/Edmore/Munich Cardinal cheerleaders get to experience this camp in the future. It was definitely worthwhile.”
Kratcha is no stranger to performing her best and learning from others as she has cheered for Cardinal basketball for four seasons and football for three seasons as captain and co-captain for each team. She was named the 2016 and 2017 UCA All American and received a 2018 NCA Senior Camp Award.
“This past November, I participated in the 2018 Varsity Spirit Spectacular parade held at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida. This past March, Breana Wagner and I competed in the Jump Off at the NDCCA Winter Cheer Competition in Minot. At that competition I received an NDCCA Senior Award,” Kratcha shared.
Kratcha plans to cheer on the Concordia College Cobber Cheer Team and the North Dakota Elite Worlds Team this fall. In addition to that, she also plans to cheer on the Fargo Invader Cheer Team the following spring.