Tags Posts tagged with "Cheerleading"

Cheerleading

Mount Sinai and Miller Place also come in first, Northport and Ward Melville second

Rocky Point's cheerleading team placed first in the county for the third straight season. Photo by Jim Ferchland
Miller Place’s cheerleading team rocks the house. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

The Eagles’ consistency and dominance is second to none when it comes to high school varsity cheerleading.

Rocky Point claimed its third cheerleading county championship in Division I medium varsity Feb. 24 at West Islip High School in front of a boisterous crowd shouting out Rocky Point’s name. The Eagles finished with 94.6 points, the highest overall score of the day.

“It feels amazing,” head coach Anna Spallina said. “There’s so much pressure on me to always compete and be on top. I think it’s just my personality. Climbing to the top is always good but once you’re up there, it’s harder to stay at the top.”

A Mount Sinai cheerleader atop a pyramid. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Before the meet on Saturday, Rocky Point was down in Orlando, Florida for nationals. After earning a pass straight to the finals, the Eagles’ performance put them in a disappointing seventh place.

“It’s a sport,” Spallina said. “Like any other sport, you’re going to have a good day and a bad day. It’s just the way it is.”

Northport finished second (81.2), Newfield third (67.3) and Kings Park fourth (65.9).

Mount Sinai was the only Division II large school in the competition. They finished with a score of 87.7. Mustangs head coach Kara Bochicchio said there still was competition — themselves.

“It was really just about going out there and trying to perform the best routine they could,” Bochicchio said. “Throughout the whole routine, there was fight. It might not have been the most perfect routine of the day, but they fought for everything tooth and nail. I’m really proud of them.”

Mount Sinai senior Charlotte Fiordalisi said there’s no way better to finalize the season with a county championship, especially after the Mustangs also finished nationals in fourth place.

Northport’s cheerleading team brings the excitement. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“I’m just really proud of my team,” Fiordalisi said. “My first ever competition six years ago was here and my last competition being here is bittersweet. It was a great way to finish the season. I’m just living in the moment.”

Miller Place finished first in Division II Medium varsity. The Panthers had 68.5 points to Hampton Bays’ 45.2. The pair are the only two teams in the division.

To wrap up the day was the Division I large school, Sachem North (88.7) earned first place over Ward Melville by one point.

“They really amaze me,” Ward Melville head coach Christine Perretta said of her team. “They never let anything defeat them. We pushed through every routine and they’ve definitely gone further than they’ve ever gone for Ward Melville. They don’t stop until the end.”

A Newfield cheerleader shouts a chant. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Ward Melville senior Kara Manuud has been with the team since her sophomore year. She said she was confident in the Patriots’ routine.

“Just being on that mat one final time, I knew nothing could go wrong,” Manuud said. “We have the skill, we’ve had all the practice we could have and it was just the matter of perfecting that and showing it on the mat.”

The Patriots took eighth place in nationals this year, and senior Courtney Cardillo said it feels good to finish her high school career on a higher note.

“After getting eighth, we worked really hard this past week,” Cardillo said. “We came in stronger than we’ve ever been. We hit a bunch of routines. We showed them what we deserved and who we are.”

 

 

Ward Melville’s cheerleading team. Photo by Jim Ferchland

by -
0 682
Hauppauge's cheerleading team placed second in the county after finishing second in the nation. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

The Eagles soar to another second-place finish.

After earning a runner-up nod at nationals two weeks ago, the Hauppauge cheerleading team placed second in the county in Small School Session 1 with a 90.3 score, just two points behind top-finisher Longwood.

“It feels good considering that there were so many teams that didn’t make it here,” head coach Laura Alonzo said. “It’s a little disappointing for us, however, because we knew going into it all we had to was hit. We didn’t do that, but the rest of the routine was great.”

Senior Francesca Capilets gets the crowd excited. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Hauppauge was deducted 2.5 points for a minor fall during its routine, so without that fall, the Eagles would have taken first place by half a point.

Taking third was Walt Whitman (86.1), fourth West Islip (84.4) and fifth William Floyd (83.6).

Hauppauge senior three-year starter Sam Suazo said coming in second was not what the team wanted, but was happy with how her final season with the Eagles went.

“I’m proud of the season and how far we’ve come throughout the year with everything that we’ve accomplished,” Suazo said. “Even though we had a fall, we still had a great performance today. This has been my favorite team, and I had such a nice time this year.”

Senior Francesca Capilets has been with the team since her freshman year. During the routine, she said the team had to work hard to make up for the fall.

“We needed to bring more excitement to the routine,” Capilets said. “It’s harder when you have a fall because the crowd is not as interested. We just had to catch everyone’s eye.”

After the national performance , Capilets said there was a lot of pressure going into the final competition at West Islip.

“We came into county’s thinking we need to have our best performance,” she said. “Nationals went so well. We hit it at nationals, and knew we had to do better here.”

by -
0 12182
Centereach's cheerleading team competes at UCA nationals. Photo from Middle Country school district

By Desirée Keegan

All the girls wanted was to hear Centereach’s name called. When they heard they were going straight through to the Universal Cheerleaders Association national championship finals, they couldn’t have predicted the chain of events that would occur.

The Cougars had never reached the national finals. As the high of hearing they were in wore off, and they had to hit the stage the next day, the nerves started to kick back in.

Centereach’s cheerleading team competes at UCA nationals. Photo from Middle Country school district

“Nobody really talked,” junior Lynda D’Alessandro said. “We weren’t hyping each other up like we were the day before, we weren’t hitting — we weren’t confident in what we were doing.

It was just a different vibe. But as soon as we were getting ready to compete, everyone was saying, ‘C’mon, we’ve got this. Everyone’s been working so hard. It’s only 150 seconds, we can do it.’ At that point, I said to myself: ‘We’ve got it.”’

Centereach nailed its routine, and knowing they were up against three previous nationally-ranked Division II Large Varsity teams from Long Island, the girls weren’t sure where the chips would fall.

“We were shaking,” sophomore Corinne Michalski said as her team waited for the results to come in. “If you were sitting by that semicircle our team was probably the loudest because we were hysterically crying.”

The girls sat uneasy, fingers squeezed between one another as they heard team after team get called before them. Once the judges reached the Top 5, the Cougars couldn’t contain their excitement.

“If you ask me or anyone else, we would say ‘I don’t know how it looks; I don’t know if we’re going to do well,’” D’Alessandro said of her team’s mentality heading down to Florida to compete. “Hearing two national champion team’s names get called before us, I thought, ‘How does Centereach, a team that’s never made it past the preliminary round, go straight through and place ahead of them?”’

With two teams left, Centereach was finally called, and for the first time in school history Feb. 11, the cheer team placed at nationals.

Centereach’s cheerleading team competes at UCA nationals. Photo from Middle Country school district

Naturally, yelling and screaming ensued.

“It was a feeling like no other,” Michalski said. “None of us went down there expecting to do what we did. Every single week at local competitions we never even placed. We [faced] teams we never in our wildest dreams thought we could beat. It still feels like a dream; it doesn’t feel like I’m awake.”

Centereach had several members drop out at the beginning of the season, and pulled up an eighth-grader to fill the squad. Over the course of competition, the team was never at full strength, with a cheerleader or two usually sitting out due to injury or illness. Watching her team compete on the national stage in the preliminary round, head coach Stephani Catalano said she couldn’t believe her eyes. Her team was one of two from the field of 14 to hit a perfect routine.

“The first 26 seconds of our routine are the hardest part of our routine,” she said. “We say the second the arabesques hit, we know the rest of our routine we can hit without even thinking about it. It was amazing to see them use all their energy and finish a flawless routine. It truly left me speechless.”

She said her girls were determined moving into the finals. She said they never rested on their laurels.

Centereach cheerleaders excited after hitting their routine. Photo from Middle Country school district

“We wanted to earn that trophy,” Catalano said. “We didn’t want to rely on making it straight through past semifinals. We had a lot to prove. We didn’t get there by luck — we’re in a hard division, and we proved we deserve to be there. I know now their fire is going to burn brighter and bigger than it ever has.”

D’Alessandro said it’s Catalano who was the catalyst behind Middle Country school district making history. The four-year varsity coach graduated from Centereach. A former cheerleader for the Cougars, Catalano never made it to nationals, and was finally able to take her team the last two seasons. In 2017, the girls didn’t make it past the first round.

“Before her, we never placed at competitions; it was never possible,” the three-year varsity cheerleader said of her coach. “Stephani’s attitude and her heart and her passion for the sport made a complete difference. She has a lot of faith in us doing well, and that we’ll make her proud. She’s helped me not only become a better cheerleader, but a better person with the lessons that she’s taught me and my team.”

With the core of the Cougars returning next season, the girls are confident, despite the added pressure associated with finishing second. Catalano said the girls are already asking to start practicing.

“We can start off with more confidence instead of working up to it,” Michalski said.

Her teammate took it a step further.

“There’s no reason we can’t be national champions,” D’Alessandro said. “People keep coming up to me and congratulating me and all I can say it, ‘Thank you.’ Maybe in a week or two it will hit me — we’re second in the nation. I never expected us to make history for Middle Country, and we did it.”

Centereach’s cheerleading team competes at UCA nationals. Photo from Middle Country school district

Cougars earn nod for first time in school history, Hauppauge also places second

The Centereach High School varsity cheerleading team placed second in nation at the Universal Cheerleaders Association’s National High School Cheerleading Championship. The Cougars placed in Division II Large Varsity finals for the first time in school history.

Hauppauge also placed second, in Division II Small Varsity. Mount Sinai finished fourth in Division II Large Varsity and Rocky Point tied for seventh place in Division II Medium Varsity.

by -
0 1791
Rocky Point easily landed at the top spot in Division II Medium at West Babylon Jan. 27. Photo by Jim Ferchland

By Jim Ferchland

The Eagles are soaring all the way to nationals.

Rocky Point’s cheerleading squad once again came out on top, with a 92.5 Division II Medium first-place finish at West Babylon Jan. 27. The Eagles were ahead of No. 2 Northport (77) and No. 3 Newfield (66.5). Head coach Anna Spallina said that competition is practice for nationals, where Rocky Point will be seeking its fourth national title.

Samantha Ferrara. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“When we won nationals in the past, we were beating teams by 20 plus points,” Spallina said. “We’re in a good place.”

Rocky Point keeps its standards high. Spallina, in her 14th year at the helm, has taken her team to the top of the Orlando scoresheet in 2011, 2012 and 2014. In the last two years, the Eagles finished second and third, respectively.

“It’s so much pressure,” Spallina said of maintaining the team’s ranking. “To climb to the top, I can tell you, is not as hard as staying at the top. Staying on top, no one wants you to take first place anymore. I don’t blame them.”

Before awards were announced, senior Julieanna Joy said she was confident her team would take first.

“I think we were pretty confident,” she said. “We knew that if we just hit our routine, we would end up on top.”

Junior Samantha Ferrara, who has been on the cheer team since seventh grade, is the only cheerleader on the current roster who has won a national title.

Mount Sinai placed first in Division I Large at the West Babylon competition Jan. 27. Photo by Jim Ferchland

“I want to give a boost to my team,” she said, “so they can feel what I felt a few years ago.”

Joy pointed to the coaching staff as a reason why the team’s been so successful.

“They push us to do our best and keep us relaxed,” she said. “They are always pushing us.”

Scanlon said that she is tough on the girls, knowing the standard having won five national championships with Hofstra University. To help the team perform to its level of difficult with percision, the Eagles practiced their routine over 100 times a year.

“This program is at the same level as a college program,” Scanlon said. “Spallina runs this program just as hard Hofstra cheerleading runs their program. We’re tough, and the kids know that.”

Mount Sinai continues to rock the top spot in Division I Large after requesting to compete outside of Division II, with no other challengers in that section. The Mustangs finished with a 91.05 ahead of No. 2 West Babylon (84.9) and No. 3 Sachem North (83.8).

Rocky Point’s cheerleading team sees each competition as practice for nationals. Photo by Jim Ferchland

Mount Sinai head coach Kara Bochicchio said it took a lot of preparation for the Mustangs to get where they’re at.

“We started open gyms back in April — we’ve been preparing for a while,” she said. “We’ve been working around the clock since. It’s been a long time coming.”

Mount Sinai senior captain Charlotte Fiordalisi competed in her first competition in over a month after she had surgery on her broken nose.

“I just want to thank all my coaches, my teammates and my doctors for being so understanding,” Fiordalisi said. “It’s unexplainable the joy I feel to be back out there with my team. I don’t really know what to say. I’m just so happy. It’s a fun day for me.”

Mount Sinai has one competition left on Long Island at Smithtown West  Feb. 3.

The teams will compete at nationals Feb. 10 and 11 before returning home to take part in the Suffolk County championship at West Islip Feb. 24.

“The big goal is nationals,” Spallina said. “These girls want to claim the national title, and we’re excited about that.”

This version correctly identifies what years Rocky Point won national titles.

by -
0 1137
Mount Sinai’s cheerleading team, a county, state and national champion, bounced back after having its seven-year streak of first-place Empire Regional finishes snapped, to win the first meet of the regular season. Photo from Megan Wesolowski

For the first time in seven years, Mount Sinai’s cheerleading team fell short of a first-place finish at the Empire Regional championship. The girls could have sulked, hung their heads and given up the idea of maintaining their national prowess. Instead, the Mustangs used the slip to second place to fuel their fire.

“We put out an amazing routine that we were very proud of,” senior captain Alexa Tabile said of Mount Sinai’s 88.1 score Dec. 2 at Nassau County Community College that still earned the team a bid to nationals. “We took a step back and saw we need to be better, because the team that beat us was better. It’s just as simple as that.”

The girls went into the next practice asking what they could do to get back on top, and worked at it.

Mount Sinai sticks a routine. Photo from Megan Wesolowski

“I try to motivate my teammates before practice and tell them we need to be supporting each other,” Tabile said, adding that the team takes everything in stride. “It’s something I felt we did, and it led to our next first-place finish. We focus on what’s coming up next, but always have the big picture in mind.”

The Mustangs ended up in the No. 1 spot Dec. 11 at Longwood, redeeming themselves from a bobble in the pyramid at the regional competition and a fall at the  meet.

Tabile said she was still afraid of once again coming in second, because more points are deducted for a fall.

“There was a little bit of doubt,” she said. “We thought maybe the fall really put us back, but we knew we put out a routine that was clean, and everything else in the routine we hit beautifully. We kept going.”

Mount Sinai placed fifth in the state championship earlier this year after taking first in the inaugural state competition in 2016. The Mustangs won the county title last season and have a history of placing at nationals, coming in third in February and in 2015, and first in 2016 and 2014.

“They feel a great amount of pressure knowing that we have a long tradition of winning,” said first-year head coach Megan Wesolowski, who coached the district’s middle school team for the last five years and took over for long-standing leader Samantha Melella following the birth of her child. “They want to make the people that made this program proud. They’re proving that one fall or one mishap never carries through an entire routine, and Alexa Tabile is leading the team through everything. She’s one of our best back spots with great tumbling skills. Cheer-related or not, she’s there for every girl that needs her.”

Mount Sinai’s cheerleading team earned a bid to nationals next yea.r Photo from Megan Wesolowski

Mount Sinai, as Suffolk County’s only Division II Large team, competed against Division I Large schools, which made the win this time around even sweeter. Wesolowski petitioned for her team’s step up in competition.

“It’s great to have teams to compete against, and especially to be able to compete against schools with a bigger pool of girls to choose from,” she said. “Competing against yourself you kind of lose that competitive edge. We didn’t want to end up going down to nationals next year with a false sense of security.”

Tabile said the jump has not only forced her team to improve its skills and routine, but it has also been more fun.

“Now, we go to competitions and we know we have to be on point,” she said. “Going out there last year, it didn’t matter if we were doing forward rolls on the mat for two-and-half minutes, we were still getting first place. Now, we’re driven to put in the extra work because we’re competing against other teams with national titles.”

After new and old players quit the team, and through injuries and adjusting to a new coach, Mount Sinai worked to remain competitive, and Tabile said this learning experience is only making the Mustangs stronger.

“We’ve clicked very well,” she said. “Coach Wesolowski motivates us in every way and we want to do better for her. It hasn’t been the easiest season for us — we’ve had our fair share of challenges throughout the season — but I feel like we’ve never had a team with this kind of bond, where we pick each other up and say, ‘Hey, things haven’t been going as we’ve planned, and we’ve had our hardships, but we can move on from this.’”

Olivia Hiz at the University of Alabama. Photo from Melissa Rosman

It’s been two weeks since Mount Sinai graduate Olivia Hiz was found unresponsive in her University of Alabama dorm room and put on life support. And while her family has been on pins and needles every day, the generosity of close friends, community members and total strangers are helping to keep their spirits up.

A GoFundMe page to support medical expenses and rehabilitation for Hiz was set up April 6 by her cousins a week after the 18-year-old college freshman was rushed to DCH Regional Medical Center in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, March 29.

After hours of testing, doctors diagnosed her with streptococcal pneumonia infection, which ultimately led to viral encephalitis, a severe swelling of the brain.

Olivia Hiz, at center, with her mother Lisa and father John. Photo from Melissa Rosman

Just a few days before her collapse, Hiz was at home in Mount Sinai and visited the doctor to get some sinus symptoms checked. Once she was evaluated and returned to school, her symptoms escalated.

She has since been transported to University of Alabama Hospital in Birmingham for treatment, where she’s currently relying on a respirator. The family said although she’s still not able to communicate verbally, she’s displayed slight cognitive ability by opening her eyes and moving her hands.

According to Hiz’s cousin Melissa Rosman, who posted the online fundraiser, the close-knit family of uncles, aunts and cousins decided quickly that a page should be made to help ease the burden of  parents John and Lisa Hiz.

Considering the serious clinical situation, the family realized this could be a long haul for Olivia Hiz and her parents.

“The treatment Olivia’s receiving right now — the ventilator, all her tests, MRIs — is very expensive and they don’t know at the moment what will be covered by medical insurance and what won’t be,” she said. “Everyone in the family, of course, is devastated … [but] we’re being cautiously optimistic that she’ll wake up soon. Olivia is very caring, has a huge heart and she’ll always help everyone in need, which is why I’m so grateful people are helping her when she needs it most.”

“We’re just a very close family and when one gets cut, the other bleeds. This has been a difficult time for everybody.”

—John Rosman

In just six days, the GoFundMe reached $31, 275 of a $50,000 goal from a total of 331 people, ranging from family friends to Mount Sinai-Miller Place community members to complete strangers. Individual contributions range from $5 to $1,915.

“We are just so grateful for all the love and support we’ve received,” Rosman said. “It’s been so incredible and everyone has been generous and caring through everything.”

Annmarie Farris, with a donation of $50, wrote on the page, “From one Alabama freshman mom to another, I am praying for you and your family.”

Jodie Schreck, a Mount Sinai math teacher, with a donation of $100, wrote, “Liv, Miss Schreck loves you … our hopes and prayers are with you and your family, awaiting to see your sweet smile.”

Hiz’s parents, who have been in the hospital at their daughter’s side every day, expressed gratitude for the generosity of those reaching out.

“John and I are just blown away by it; it just amazes me how many people care for her,” Lisa Hiz said. “I feel very blessed that people have gone out of their way, reached into their pockets and opened up their hearts to John and I … we are so touched by everyone’s support and the messages we’ve received.”

Olivia Hizat the 2016 Universal Cheerleaders Association national championship. Photo from Melissa Rosman

John Hiz said it’s comforting to know they can lean on their community for support.

“This basically confirms just how great our area is,” he said. “When there’s a crisis, the community comes together and supports its members and families … because we all grew up together. This is going to be an extremely long road to recovery, [but] we’re hanging in there.”

The former Mount Sinai varsity cheerleader, who won the 2016 Universal Cheerleaders Association national championship, is a human environmental sciences major at the university and made the Dean’s List during her first semester with a GPA higher than 3.5.

Michael Rosman, Olivia Hiz’s uncle, said his niece is special.

“Olivia’s very outgoing and always the life of the party,” he said. “You always know when she’s in the room. She makes everybody laugh.”

John Rosman, her other uncle, who was at her bedside the first few days of her hospital stay, said the only thing he wants is for Hiz to be able to go home with her parents.

“We’re just a very close family and when one gets cut, the other bleeds,” he said. “This has been a difficult time for everybody and it’s just something you don’t expect to happen. Olivia’s parents have the support of family, the support of friends and the support of community.”

To donate to the GoFundMe page, visit www.gofundme.com/oliviahiz.

by -
0 1057
The Rocky Point cheerleading team gets into formation. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Rocky Point continues to control the top spot.

The Eagles cheerleading team showed why it’s a 13-time regional and three-time national champion when it took to the mat Dec. 18 in the Small School Division I meet. The Eagles competed against 10 other teams and placed first in the event with a flawless two-and-a-half-minute performance that wowed the near-capacity crowd at Comsewogue High School.

The Rocky Point cheerleading team performs for the crowd. Photo by Bill Landon

They were the seventh squad to perform, and took to the mat with a presence. Every tumble was crisp and deliberate, every flip landed in unison and every pyramid was mistake free. The Eagles made it look easy and the girls smiled from ear to ear because they were confident, and genuinely having fun.

Rocky Point head coach Anna Spallina said one challenge her team has had to face with the new rules is getting used to the limited number of practices allowed.

“We still do the three hours sometimes — it’s hard, but three hours is three hours, they know that they have to come to practice and be serious about their work,” she said. “And we keep the level of pride up there.”

She said her girls know the level that they need to uphold, not just for her, but for the judges.

“They know that they’re going to be picked apart a lot harder than any other team,” Spallina said, “because they’re looking for them to make a mistake.”

Senior Kristin Flatley said that with six years of experience, after landing on the mat for the final time, she thought her team aced the performance. Her teammates erupted into celebration, too, because they thought the same thing.

“I think we nailed everything — we work so hard, we practice three hours every single day, we just have to push it out hard,” she said. “We fight for everything, we’re so strong and we know we have it. We bring that excitement to the mat.”

Senior Brittany Reh said her team performed well in every area of the routine.

“They know that they’re going to be picked apart a lot harder than any other team because they’re looking for them to make a mistake.”

—Anna Spallina

“I’m very proud of my team,” Reh said. “We had a lot of energy and I’m really proud of how we executed.”

Spallina told her team that with every competition there’s only one team to beat out on the floor.

“We keep telling them that you actually have to beat yourself at every competition, and that’s hard to do,” she said. “Everyone wants to pick off the top dog.”

Bailey Klein said her team ends every routine leaving it all out on the mat.

“I knew that as soon as the music went on — I looked around and everyone was smiling,” Klein said. “We were having so much fun, we cheer each other on throughout and no one was going to give up.”

Rocky Point senior Morganne Nofi said there’s an element of the routine that only comes with time, which is why the girls are seeing such positive results.

“I think what helped us today is we walked out on the mat with confidence,” she said. “We didn’t hold back anything, we knew what we were capable of and we did show that today. It’s part of our focus — to have a presence when you walk out on the floor. You can’t describe it, but it’s a strong feeling.”

Behind the Eagles were Wantagh, Hauppauge, East Islip and Comsewogue.

Rocky Point hits the competition mat again Jan. 8 at Newfield High School at 9 a.m.

by -
0 1137
The Kings Park cheerleading team leaps into the air during the Small School Division I competition. Photo by Bill Landon

By Bill Landon

Kings Park’s cheerleading squad has been battling since opening day, when seven of the team members dropped out. And now the girls are struggling to stay healthy.

The team took to the mat, competing for the top spot in Small School Division I against 10 other teams Dec. 18 at Comsewogue High School, and even with two members sidelined, the girls were able to stay solid through the two-and-a-half-minute performance in front of a near-capacity crowd.

The Kings Park cheerleading team performs different stunts while getting the crowd involved in the cheering during the Small School Division I competition. Photo by Bill Landon

What has made matters more difficult is getting used to the differences between the Long Island Cheerleading Association and Section XI rule book and scoring sheet, since cheerleading has been recognized as a sport.

“We had to change our routines and it’s a drastic change,” said Kings Park head coach Jennifer Ford. “Section XI caused us to fundamentally change how we do it.”

Kings Park senior Alyssa Ambrosia, a two-year varsity starter, said she’s only known the new scoring system, so for her, that’s an advantage.

“We’ve had to overcome a lot this season,” she said. “We were strong in stunting, but I think we can all improve on our tumbling.”

The Kingsmen finished outside the Top 5, but four-year veteran Jamie Barbarino sees nothing but prospect.

“I know that every single person on our team has potential,” she said. “We can be really, really good out there on the mat, but we need to get better with our [end of the routine] pyramid.”

Senior Olivia Nicoletti has been cheering since ninth grade, and has seen the difference between the two scoring methods.

“You have to do certain types of jumps, certain tumbling, and you do stunts differently,” Nicoletti said. “All the points are awarded differently in individual sections, so it’s much harder. We had some challenges today, [another] one of our girls got hurt, so we had to [animate] one stunt.”

Kings Park looks to put on a better performance once they’re at full strength on Jan. 15 at Mount Sinai High School at 9:15 a.m.

by -
0 1071
The Ward Melville cheerleading team poses for a group photo after claiming the top spot at the Empire Regionals for the third consecutive year. Photo from Loren Quitoni

The Ward Melville cheerleading team is heading back to nationals next month.

After placing in the top three at three state competitions this season, the Patriots also finished first for the third year in a row at the Empire Regionals at Hofstra University in December, where the girls earned an automatic bid to attend the national competition in Walt Disney World on Feb. 6 and 7.

“We worked really hard to perform the way we did that day,” senior co-captain Kellyann Egan said of the team’s performance that earned them the right to perform on the big stage for the fourth year in a row. “There was more pressure there because we wanted to do really well at home, and we ended up placing first and taking the automatic bid home and a banner for our gym.”

This was the first season when cheerleading was recognized as a sport by Section XI, and although the state scoring is different than that of the Universal Cheerleaders Association guidelines that the teams are used to, Ward Melville head coach Loren Quitoni said she’s just glad her girls are getting the recognition she feels they should.

“Being declared a sport has been a great way to give all cheerleaders the long overdue respect that they earned and deserve,” she said. “As there is more and more exposure to the sport each year, there is more and more respect and support given. Cheerleaders practice all but two months. It is extremely demanding on the body and requires an endless amount of time spent on proper safety skills, body technique and correct execution, not to mention that they perform during football and basketball season, on top of their own competition season.”

Cheerleading being declared a sport has also helped Ward Melville take part in more competitions, Quitoni said.

“Being a super large team, there weren’t many competitions that were offered that would hold so many girls, so we were never really able to compete that much in the past,” she said. “With each competition they’ve been getting better and better.”

The Ward Melville cheerleading team performs on the sidelines of a football game. Photo from Loren Quitoni
The Ward Melville cheerleading team performs on the sidelines of a football game. Photo from Loren Quitoni

The girls are in Division I Super Large, and although it’s been challenging for Quitoni to get all 35 of her girls in sync, senior co-captain and three-year varsity competitor Melanie Adams said she’s been surprised by what the team has been able to accomplish.

“I was nervous when I heard that we had so many younger girls, but they’ve really impressed me with their maturity and skill level,” she said of the team’s 15 freshmen and sophomores. “Representing Ward Melville is one of my favorite things. It’s very different from any other sport because you can’t ever just rely on yourself, you have to rely on your teammates, too, and they never let me down.”

Besides all that they do cheering-on their fellow student-athletes and taking part in their own competitions, the Patriots also partake in a myriad of fundraisers and community events, like clinics, family fun night at Minnesauke Elementary School and Stony Brook’s breast cancer walk, while also serving as special helpers at a dinner hosted by the school in honor of a student who is battling cancer, and adopting a family for the holidays.

“I love helping out,” senior three-year varsity cheerleader and co-captain Katarina Ramos said. “It’s really nice to gather together as a team to support the community and support our friends and our classmates.”

The squad also added a new teammate in sophomore Kim Yuknis, who is in a wheelchair.

“The girls have adopted her as one of their own,” Quitoni said. “She comes to every practice.”

Yuknis said she’s had a lot of fun fulfilling her dream of being on the varsity team, and hopes the Patriots can excel at nationals.

“I want them to do their best and I’m always going to be supporting them because they’ve always done that for me,” she said. “Loren was my gym teacher and helped me achieve this goal of mine. She’s always been supportive and she’s always believed in me. I’m very grateful, and I hope to be able to give back to them what they’ve given to me.”

Now that the big day is fast approaching, senior co-captain Katrina Henry said her squad is focused on next weekend’s event.

“We’re just working hard on competing at nationals and trying to do the best that we can do,” she said.

The girls have one more competition on Saturday before nationals, and Adams said her team’s goal is to outdo last year’s feat, where the girls placed 11th, coming just one or two points shy of breaking the top 10.

“We practice so much and we’re just so good this year,” she said. “We struggled at times in previous years, but I only see good things in the future. The practices haven’t been all that hard, and I know the girls listen very well and they take direction. I want to do even better than Top 10. I want to make the Top 5 this year, and I really think my team can make it.”

Social

9,196FansLike
0FollowersFollow
1,125FollowersFollow
33SubscribersSubscribe