Cheer Squad Earns Trip to Citrus Bowl

Cheerleaders Rebecca Gribi, Madison Burnett, Gabby Winters and Rachel Bautusta enjoying a recent home game in Miranda

Cheerleaders Rebecca Gribi, Madison Burnett, Gabby Winters and Rachel Bautusta enjoying a recent home game in Miranda [Photo by Crystal Salomon]

Nine members of South Fork High School’s Cheerleading team will be traveling to Florida over winter break to perform at the 2017 Citrus Bowl in Orlando. The team participated in a United Cheer Association Camp last summer and competed to earn the invitation to join with dozens of other honored squads at the national event on New Year’s Day.

All 17 of the girls were invited, but due to various holiday obligations only nine will be able to make the journey. Seniors Shondra Mishmash, Gabi Moore, Sabrina Miclette, and Violet Page, junior Rebecca Gribi, sophomores Isabella Ardisson and Kylee Savio, and freshmen Shaylaray Bilandzija, Miranda Femenella and Chaney Ruiz are busy raising the $2,000 each that the trip will cost.

When asked what the girls are doing to raise funds, 6-year head coach Gina Michael replied, “What aren’t they doing?!” The girls will be selling Krispy Kreme Donuts, holding 50-50 and goody basket raffles at football games, selling trinkets at Homecoming, and hosting a non-alcoholic “Paint and Sip” art class, assisted by South Fork art teacher Jennifer McClure.

South Fork's Cheerleading squad watching a recent game in Miranda

South Fork’s Cheerleading squad working a recent game in Miranda [Photo by Lori Ruiz]

In addition to the Citrus Bowl invitation, five girls tried out and qualified to go to London as All American All Stars, but will not be making that journey, preferring instead to represent South Fork at the Citrus Bowl with more of their teammates. Those who qualified for London were Mishmash, Miclette, Moore, Ardisson, and Femenella.

Michael is very proud of this group of girls not only for their skill and high level of motivation, but also for their ability to consistently put each other and the team above their own individual needs. “They really look past their own problems for the good of the squad,” said Michael.

If you are interested in helping the squad reach their fundraising goals, Michael can be reached at Jim’s Quality Quick Lube, 923-1420.



  • I am so excited for all of these young athletes! They will show the rest of the world the very best of Southern Humboldt.

  • Right On!!! Im so excited and proud of these cheer-leaders!!! They deserve more recognition!!!

  • Id donate $ towards London too!

  • Shondra and Gabrielle made it to London two years ago a few were selected to go to London again this year but the whole team had a chance to go to Florida so the few chosen for London decided let’s just do Florida for the whole team 🎉🎉🎉 That’s what you call team spirit

  • Congratulations!!! Proud of you ladies. I am looking forward to watching you at the Citrus Bowl on TV. Have a safe & memory making trip.

  • WTG ladies!! I knew you all could do it. Will be happy to support you in your efforts to raise the needed travel expenses.

  • Congratulations to the young athletes from South Fork High’s Cheer Team!
    This is an amazing opportunity and I hope that the community will help them to reach their fundraising goals. I cannot stress enough how SO very important this rare opportunity could be for these young women.

    Many years ago I received a similar opportunity, through UCA, to perform at a major televised event in New York City. It turned out to be a life-changing trip for me. Growing up “behind the redwood curtain”, in a third-generation Humboldt County family, I had never traveled so far from home, let alone visited NYC. It opened my eyes and expanded my mind as to what other possibilities existed “out there” for my future — and a life beyond Humboldt County. I remember standing on a sidewalk in Manhattan, taking in the sights, smells, and sounds of everything around me, and telling myself, “I will be back here again.” Less than 10 years later I WAS back in Manhattan, and was traveling to NYC and other East Coast cities for work on a regular basis. I do not believe that would have happened had I not been able to travel to NYC in high school…I would not have dared to believe a dream so big could become a reality.

    I know that THAT opportunity, provided to me through Cheer, changed the course of my life for the better. Don’t get me wrong, I love Humboldt, I’m proud of my roots, and I will never forget where I came from. But it can be hard for young people in Humboldt County to truly visualize a life elsewhere as a viable possibility when all we’ve ever known is Humboldt, how does one carve out that path when there’s no road map for us, and the only view of alternatives are what we see on television? It can feel so unattainable. We all know how unusually difficult it can be for young people in Humboldt County to expand their wings and leave the County. Opportunities, like the one these young women have received, are a rare gift.

    My family was not wealthy, and I certainly could not have afforded the trip without the generosity of many members of the community, *especially* the local Rotary and Kiwanis groups, and a few local business people. I hope that the local service organizations and business owners will sponsor these athletes, and help to make their future dreams a little bigger and a little brighter.

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