Roschen returns with spirit

Fairmont native Cassandra Roschen of Houston, foreground, returned to conduct a cheer camp Wednesday through Friday for Cardinal cheerleaders at Cutting Edge Fitness in Fairmont.

More than 20 Fairmont cheerleaders are spending three days this week at the squad’s annual cheer camp, led by one of their own alumna.

A 2005 graduate of Fairmont High School, Cassandra Roschen was a Cardinal cheerleader from eighth grade through her senior year, under the coaching of Deb Heinrich.

She continued as a cheerleader at Augsburg College in Minneapolis, where she completed her undergraduate studies in three years with a double major in history and Spanish. She then earned a master’s degree in education in 2010 at Minnesota State-Mankato.

“I was finishing my master’s degree, and there were not a lot of job opportunities around here for me. I had some friends going to Houston to teach so I packed up my car and went,” Roschen said.

Her positive experiences as a cheerleader pushed her to try out for the Houston Texans’ squad. Roschen was with more than 1,000 women competing for only 30 spots. She held little hope of being selected because the Houston squad focused heavily on dance, and she did not have a dance background.

“But it was a great experience,” she said.

In Houston, Roschen’s career took a different direction from teaching. For the past four years, she has worked for Sprouts grocery chain. Sprouts began in 2002 and now has 300 stores and 27,000 team members in the United States. The company specializes in natural, organic and gluten-free foods. Roschen handles outside marketing and events, like the opening of the 18th Sprouts store in south Texas and the new store that will open in Seattle later this month.

Working for Sprouts is a good fit for Roschen, who has her own food allergies. She maintains a gluten-free vegetarian diet even when traveling and is studying to become a nutritional therapist. Her fitness regimen includes goat yoga, which she says is fun, and running. She herself has done about 20 half marathons of 13 miles each, and she and her father finished a 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon on consecutive days in honor of her grandmother.

Although work and travel keep her busy, Roschen makes time to return to Fairmont to visit her parents. Her father, Len, works at Hy-Vee, and her mother, Jan, works at MRCI.

She was here visiting last year and, like she usually does, stopped by to see her former coach, Heinrich.

“I got stuck here last August because of (Hurricane) Harvey. No plane could fly into Houston,” Roschen said. “I’ve always stayed in touch with Deb so I came to the cheer camp for a couple of days.

At the time, Heinrich had not been completely satisfied with the people she had hired to run the camp, and when she expressed her sentiments to Roschen, Roschen asked her a simple question: Why don’t you just do the camp? Heinrich agreed — on the condition that Roschen come back to Fairmont to help.

So Roschen is back in her hometown, teaching the Fairmont cheerleaders six sideline cheers, two crowd cheers, a third-quarter cheer and a pom-pom routine.

And a little of her life philosophy.

“It’s not about cheering or jumps. It encompasses the whole girl,” Roschen said.

The Fairmont girls will be making cards to be sent to the patients at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Roschen also gave each of the girls a “compliment cup,” a large clear-lidded glass. The girls will write notes about something they like about each of the other girls and put it in the corresponding compliment cup.

“It’s not anything like ‘I like your smile.’ It’s not on appearance but on character like, ‘I love how you bring your energy every day,'” Roschen said. “That way, they’ll learn things about themselves that they don’t realize. It lets you see what other people see in you.”

She said Sprouts is supportive of her involvement with Fairmont’s cheer camp, and her flexible work schedule allows for the time off.

“I like giving back when I can,” she said.