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Spirit leaders: It is all about community for Hockinson football

Students do all they can to support athletes, make memories

BRUSH PRAIRIE — There is a football team and a football community.

Those on the team know their roles, and those in the community understand their roles, too.

It is the team and the community, together, that can make a football season truly memorable.

Stephen Weinmuller, a senior at Hockinson, is one of the spirit leaders for his school, the guy who leads all the chants from the student section.

“I get the crowd into it so the players can hear us,” Weinmuller said. “Give them support so they know we’re there.”

The Hockinson student section went with a Destruction Zone theme for the Hawks’ semifinal football game. Brandi Webb, a junior, designs most of the posters, and Stephen Weinmuller, a senior, is one of the spirit leaders for the school. At Hockinson, it is not just a football team, but a football community. Photo courtesy of Jenny Ristau.
The Hockinson student section went with a Destruction Zone theme for the Hawks’ semifinal football game. Brandi Webb, a junior, designs most of the posters, and Stephen Weinmuller, a senior, is one of the spirit leaders for the school. At Hockinson, it is not just a football team, but a football community. Photo courtesy of Jenny Ristau.

Brandi Webb, a junior, is a little bit ahead of her time.

“The seniors are the main spirit leaders,” Webb acknowledged. “But I have a natural gift of being loud.”

Loud and proud, these Hockinson Hawks. Athletes, coaches, parents, and, of course, the students, make for community pride.

Webb also is blessed with good penmanship, so she often designs the run-through posters, the giant signs that the players burst through either before a game or at halftime.

Every role in important, after all.

“These are my crazy kids. I love them,” said Beth Tugaw, Hockinson’s athletic coordinator and leadership advisor. “Every high school needs kids like these two.”

Brandi Webb (left) and Stephen Weinmuller (right) hang with Beth Tugaw, Hockinson’s athletic coordinator and leadership advisor, at school this week. Weinmuller is a senior spirit leader, preparing to lead the student section in chants for one final football game this week. Webb, a junior, says she has a natural gift of being loud. Photo by Paul Valencia
Brandi Webb (left) and Stephen Weinmuller (right) hang with Beth Tugaw, Hockinson’s athletic coordinator and leadership advisor, at school this week. Weinmuller is a senior spirit leader, preparing to lead the student section in chants for one final football game this week. Webb, a junior, says she has a natural gift of being loud. Photo by Paul Valencia

A year ago, Lucas Ortner was the senior leader in the crowd as Hockinson football went 14-0 and won the Class 2A state championship.

“Everyone loved Lucas. Everyone had so much respect for him,” Weinmuller said.

It was Ortner who said Weinmuller had to fill his shoes, take over the crowd this season. A year later, Hockinson is back in the championship game. The Hawks play Lynden at 1 p.m. Saturday in the Tacoma Dome.

“It gives you a sense of pride, just knowing we are there,” Weinmuller said. “After the game, I’m the first one to run down to the field. The players say, ‘We heard you.’ That always makes you feel welcome. We’re all just this tight-knit community.”

“I’m not very athletic,” Webb said. “Supporting is my thing. I’ve found a place I can do that.”

There is a lot to support, too. The Hawks put Hockinson on the football map last season with that 14-0 season.

In the championship game, it appeared every person from Hockinson, plus long-lost relatives, showed up at the Tacoma Dome.

“It was just mind-blowing such a small community could show up and be that big part of something,” Webb said. “People doubted us. That student section showed we aren’t just a football team, we’re a community.”

This season, the Hawks traveled to play Archbishop Murphy for just a regular-season game on a school night. Still, there were a couple dozen students who traveled the three hours to that game.

Now it will be back to the dome. Thousands of Hockinson fans are expected to be there again.

“It means a lot knowing everyone is there for each other,” Weinmuller said.

While he will continue being a spirit leader for the rest of the school year, he understands football is the biggest event for the community. He knows this is his last huge crowd to lead.

“I’m definitely going to miss it all so I’m enjoying it while I can,” he said. “I’ll make it the best I can.”

That spirit leadership will be passed on to a student who is a year younger. Webb will gladly accept the challenge.

“I plan on it, yes,” she said. “Front and center, every game.”

Loud. Proud.

Hockinson.

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About The Author

Paul Valencia joins ClarkCountyToday.com after more than two decades of newspaper experience. He became the face of high school sports coverage in Clark County during his 17 years at The Columbian. Before moving to Vancouver, Paul worked at Oregon daily newspapers in Pendleton, Roseburg, and Salem. A graduate of David Douglas High School in Portland, Paul enlisted in the U.S. Army, serving three years as a soldier/journalist. He and his wife Jenny recently celebrated their 20th anniversary. They have a son who has a passion for karate and Minecraft. Paul’s hobbies include: Watching the Raiders play football, reading about the Raiders playing football, and waiting to watch and read about the Raiders playing football.

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