Brayton Pope poses for a photo with some of his cheer teammates after taking first in the district cheer competition this winter.

Brayton Pope poses for a photo with some of his cheer teammates after taking first in the district cheer competition this winter.

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Sugar-Salem senior Brayton had no shortage of options when choosing the college he wanted to attend over the past few months. Southern Virginia and Pacific invited Pope on visits to their campus and Montana Western, where his older brother Dylan is playing offered him a scholarship for football. Pacific also talked to Pope about cheer and College of Idaho offered him a scholarship.

Ultimately ISU just felt like the better fit to Pope and he announced on Twitter on May 8 that he had decided to cheer at Idaho State University.

“I didn’t really want to go too far from home and If I stayed in Idaho there were more scholarship opportunities,” Pope said. “So really just the cost and as the cheer season ended for me in high school I really didn’t want to finish cheering.”

ISU doesn’t give out scholarships until well into their cheer season. Despite the lack of scholarship it was clear ISU wants Pope.

After Sugar-Salem head cheer coach Hayli Peterson sent a highlight tape of Pope to ISU head cheer coach Misty Stucki who then attended the Diggers district cheer competition that they ended up winning. She was impressed with Pope and invited him to tryout for her team.

Pope was planning a visit to Idaho State then the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent shutdown, shutdown his plans.

With so many good options, Pope had a tough time deciding where to go and is relieved that he had made his decision.

“It’s been stressful especially trying to decide which college to go to,” Pope said. “It’s nice to finally have what I’m going to do set. I’m excited and nervous to meet new people. I’ve always lived in Sugar. I was born in Rexburg and lived in Sugar my whole life so it’s going to be different going out and living even though it’s not that far from home.”

One the hardest decisions was choosing between cheer and football.

“I’ve loved both football and cheer,” Pope said. “They’ve both been a huge part of my life. But, I felt like ISU was just going to be better for me than the football schools that were offered me. So it wasn’t really about football or cheer but it was more about what I felt was going to be better for me.”