Cheney Free Press -

By John McCallum
Managing Editor 

Golden Feather to take over Reese Court Saturday

The annual West Plains spirit game to return to EWU


Last updated 1/16/2020 at 12:08pm

CHENEY – The Blackhawks achieved a milestone last year in the annual Golden Feather Spirit Game with Medical Lake — they finally won the spirit contest.

The competition renews for the 10th time this Saturday with Cheney finding itself in new territory of having to defend their hard-won title. Tip-off for the girls’ game is at 6 p.m. with the boys following soon thereafter around 8:30 p.m.

The games take place for the second year in a row at Eastern Washington University’s Reese Court. While technically a neutral site, high school staff spirit game coordinator Derek Slaughter admits the Blackhawks are less than a mile away while the Cardinals and their fans have a bit farther to drive – about 10 miles depending on the route.

Slaughter said having the game at Eastern is more to the advantage of the fans because it’s a larger facility that can handle more people easier than either high school gym – including having both bands – and has features such as the video board.

“It just gives you more options,” he added.

As with previous games, each school chooses a theme to base their spirit activities upon. Slaughter said the Cardinals’ theme will be “Space Jam” while Cheney is going with something a bit broader – “Turn back the clock to the early 2000s.” Skits and performances will be based upon these themes, and Cheney students attending the game will receive a spirit pack that not only includes a T-shirt but also masks from the early 2000s movie “The Incredibles” and Disney wands.

There will be Sponge Bob characters as well as music from the Spice Girls and various boy bands and additional activities and characters from the Disney and Cartoon Network channels. During the week, Cheney High will have a daily dress-up theme, beginning with Disney characters on Monday and “Build Your Own Boy Band” on Tuesday.

The week will wrap up with “Dress Up or Dress Down” on Wednesday, while Thursday is “Jersey Day” and Friday is “Spirit Day,” featuring the Spirit Pep-Con rally. Each Golden Feather contest involves a fundraiser, and this year Blackhawks students are holding a coin drive with a twist — some coins put in jars for each class actually count against that class.

As an example, Slaughter said if you wanted a certain class to lose the contest for the most money raised, put pennies, nickels and dimes in their jars. Quarters count towards a class’ total.

Last year’s contest was the first where the winner was decided via scoring points through objective tallies, instead of subjective results such as which school appeared louder during cheers. Slaughter said Medical Lake officials wanted the subjective counts factored back in, and so this year, judges will be working with objective and subjective scoring.

“Each school jockeys for a position of advantage or disadvantage for the other (school),” Slaughter said. “We always want to be accommodating, but we’ll beat them anyway. We’re on a streak – a one-game streak.”

John McCallum can be reached at

Author Bio

John McCallum, Managing Editor

John McCallum is an award-winning journalist who has been with the Cheney Free Press for over 20 years. He has received 10 Washington Newspaper Publisher Association awards for journalism and photography, including first place awards for Best Investigative, Best News and back-to-back awards in Best Breaking News categories. He has been serving as editor of the Spokane Valley News Herald since March 2020.

Phone: 509-235-6184
Contact John McCallum


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