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Three cheers for the big guy
KINGSTON —If you call Paul Thorpe’s cell phone, you may hear this message: “Hey, this is Paul. If I’m not at the phone I’m probably cheerleading.”
That’s because Thorpe lives and breathes the sport. When not in class at Kingston High, Thorpe is at work perfecting his skills and passing them on to others.
The bulky, six-foot-three senior is ideally built to hoist and toss cheerleaders, and does so each week as the only male on the school’s 13-student squad.
Originally Thorpe, 17, began cheerleading in seventh grade as a way to cozy up to some young ladies.
“At first it was the girls,” said Thorpe, “and then it was mostly the stunting.”
Stunting, as Thorpe calls it, is a sport that involves performing lifts, throws and other gymnastic feats.
Thorpe’s athletic and personal endeavors in cheerleading have paid off. He is now dating one of his teammates and has attracted the attention of the country’s premier cheerleading organization.
Last summer, at a cheer camp, Thorpe was one of only two participants in a pool of more than 300 to be invited to enter a contest with the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA).
The contest required Thorpe to shoot a video displaying his skills and submit it to the NCA.
Thorpe enlisted the help of Hanah Bobrow, his stunting partner, or flyer, to complete the NCA video. On March 1 he will find out whether he has been accepted to compete in person in April at a destination yet to be revealed.
Thorpe’s path to recognition has been clear at times, but occasionally shrouded with thorns.
Before the start of the 2008-2009 school year, Thorpe was cut from the North Kitsap team, where he cheered the previous year.
“They said I wasn’t good enough,” Thorpe said.
So he headed up Highway 307 to trade his Viking purple for Buccaneer cardinal. Although Thorpe lives a short walk from North, he gladly makes the daily commute to his new school to do what he loves.
Despite his skills and popularity, Thorpe still has his detractors.
He gets teased at times, mostly by a handful of the football and basketball players whose praises he sings on game night.
“I always tell the guys to come out and stunt with the girls and see how hard it is, but they never have,” said Thorpe.
But his teammates hold him in high regard, which is what really matters to Thorpe.
“I love Paul,” said Bobrow. “He’s strong and outgoing and really fun.”
The big guy has always had his family’s backing as well.
“My whole family supports me, goes to all the games and does whatever I need,” Thorpe said.
In addition to his duties at Kingston, Thorpe helped Bremerton’s varsity squad improve their technique to reach state this year.
Even with a busy schedule, Thorpe manages to maintain a grade point average of 3.9 or better, with a full class load.
Next year, he hopes to be in Seattle, cheering for the University of Washington.
“I think he stands a really good chance,” Heidi Uher, Thorpe’s coach, said of his ability to compete at the collegiate level. “It’s the strength that’s going to get them. And the technique.”