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Bewley inducted into OCCA Hall of Fame

Robbi Bewley Martin, left, and her mother Fran Bewley at the OCCA Hall of Fame induction.

Saturday, August 21, 2021 - Three cheers for Fran Bewley!

She and 10 others were inducted July 29 into the first-ever Hall of Fame class of the Oklahoma Cheerleading Coaches Association (OCCA).

Bewley, a graduate of Sallisaw High School and Oklahoma Baptist University, said entering the OCCA Hall of Fame was an honor that was “so wonderful (and) so exciting!”

After teaching in the Shawnee area for several years, Bewley and her husband returned to teach school in Sallisaw. Bewley worked as a counselor at SHS for 35 years, retiring in 2013.

She began to coach cheerleading in 1992, the same year she and the other Hall of Fame inductees helped form the OCCA. Bewley and the others were honored as trailblazers who formalized the framework of the organization and provided stability and equity for the sport of cheer.

Others inducted into the OCCA Hall of Fame included Stephanie Blackwell of Bixby, Vickie Elliott of Tahlequah, Mary Fowler of Broken Arrow, Jerry Higgonbottom of Marlow (posthumously), Wylene Hudson of Skiatook, Lyn Mendoza of Clinton, Kelly Palmer of Silo, Billie Smith of Choctaw, Carol Walker of Altus and Mary Lou Wertman of Perkins.

In 2016, three years after retiring from SHS, Bewley was contacted by Gans Public Schools about an opening for a counselor in grades K-12. Although she isn't coaching cheer at Gans, Bewley said she still loves to watch cheerleading practice.

Cheerleading has become a “family affair,” Bewley said. Her daughter, Robbi Martin, took her mother's place as cheer coach for Sallisaw's middle and high schools when she retired. Bewley said even her husband helped out, working for a time as her assistant cheer coach.

Bewley said she wasn't a cheerleader in high school or college, but when she taught school in Shawnee, she was asked to be the cheerleading coach for fifth through eighth graders. When the Bewleys returned to Sallisaw, she didn't resume her coaching career right away. Instead she focused on spending time with her “very active” daughter Robbi and soon realized that her cheerleading was most likely in her daughter's future.

Bewley is still a member of the OCCA, and her daughter is now on the organization's advisory board.

Bewley said she still spends time on the SHS campus. “I bleed orange and black,” she said, “but now I also bleed black and white” at Gans. In any case, Bewley has no intention of slowing down any time soon.

“I haven't decided when my second retirement will be,” she said.

Laura Brown, KXMX Staff Writer

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