The Argonne Rebels tradition lives on. Its latest incarnation is the Argonne Rebels All-Star Cheer Team, a program for youths 6-14 years old from Barton and Pawnee counties.
The original Argonne Rebels Drum and Bugle Corps was formed in the late 1940s, and more than 3,000 youths reportedly marched in the corps in its various forms during more than 40 years of competition.
Now as then, preparing for competition teaches the participants – all girls so far – about teamwork, dedication and hard work, said Mandy Schnoebelen, who coaches the team with Matt Engstrom.
Schnoebelen is also Barton Community College’s head coach for cheer and dance, and Engstrom is the assistant coach. Barton cheerleaders assist with teaching the girls the fundamentals.
Club President Keri Schremmer said the Argonne name is still synonymous with youth activities and competition. The name was used by a dance team for middle school and high school students, also coached by Schnoebelen, until 2013. Two years ago, the dance team disbanded and parents of younger children decided they would like to see a cheer team. This group is open to boys and girls in grades 1-7. The latest round of tryouts was last August.
The first year was a building year. The girls attend a 90-minute practice every Tuesday for nine months out of the year. Parents like how the club promotes physical activity. “We make them sweat,” Schremmer said.
Today, the group has grown and 33 girls continue to practice every week, learning exciting routines. They also participated in the Hoisington Labor Day Parade, and are preparing for their first competition, on Feb. 13, 2016, at Tulsa, Okla.
“My daughter Gintry is new to the organization. She loves it!” Schremmer said. “We really have a cheer family.”
So far, 80 percent of the money for expenses is funded by volunteer hours at the Argonne Bingo Hall, staffed by parents and members of the cheer squad. Through fundraisers, sponsors said they hope to have the program 100 percent funded so that there are no out-of-pocket costs for students. That way, no child has to be turned away because of the financial burden that an extra-curricular activity puts on a family budget.
This Saturday, Oct. 24, the club is trying a different sort of fundraiser, a dinner with a dueling pianos show, “Fun Pianos 176 Keys.” The cheerleaders won’t be there; it will be for adults only, because the program is for a mature audience. It will start with a 6 p.m. social hour at the Great Bend Events Center. There will be a fried chicken dinner catered by Wheatland Cafe at 6:30 p.m. The two-hour piano show will begin around 7:30 p.m.
Tickets were sold in advance for $50 per person. A limited number of tickets may be available at the door. For more information about this event or the team contact club president Keri Schremmer via email, firstname.lastname@example.org.