By SARAH GIOMI ’18
At only 22, the head cheer coach and current Lute took her team to the final round of the national championship in February, an achievement only done for the first time in the high school’s history.
Blake grew up in Steilacoom and was a cheerleader for Steilacoom High School from 2007-2011. Patricia Sortore, the prior head coach of the high school cheer team was married to Blake’s Universal Cheer Association supervisor and wanted her to take over the team when Sortore left for a maternity leave.
Steilacoom went to the Universal Cheer Association national championship competition the next weekend in Florida with the goal to make it to finals in the largest non-tumbling category.
“After the semi-finals I took them to the football field and just start throwing material at them. I changed a lot and told them if you want to win you have to do this and I knew they could,” Blake said.
The Steilacoom team had the best performances of its season and the team made it to the finals.
Coaching takes a significant amount of experience and training Blake said. Blake’s age is helpful with relating to the girls, but can be a challenge with their parents.
“The hardest thing is being so young. I was in high school less than five years ago but I need to be seen as an adult and an authority figure. I have to find that balance especially with getting the respect of their parents. They have to know they can’t question my coaching decisions just because I am young,” Blake said.
At PLU, Blake is majoring in Kinesiology with a concentration in pre-physical therapy and minoring in sport and exercise psychology. She hopes to continue coaching while attending a graduation program after graduating PLU.
Blake puts a lot of work into coaching her kids, she thinks that, “when you like what you do, it makes it a lot easier. It makes it worth it when they succeed and they feel good about themselves.”
She said she doesn’t get a lot of sleep balancing coaching and getting ready to graduate college but when she sees them excited about what they’ve done, go to nationals and make it to finals, Blake said, “it’s worth it.”