Whether you’ve seen them at a football game, a basketball game, or even just around the school in their uniforms, everyone knows about the EHHS Cheerleading team. However, they do much more than just cheer on the sidelines. Here is a complete recap of the 2018-19 EHHS Cheerleading team’s season.
Photo Credit: Haley Kozlowski
Announcement of the Captains
Head Coach Michelle Maru and Assistant Coach Krista Anania have been coaching cheerleading at EHHS for 12 and 7 years respectively. Both are EHHS alumni and former EHHS cheerleaders. At the end of the 2017-18 season, it came time to choose captains for the next season. Typically, the team has voted for captains, but this season, the coaches did it a bit differently. “We decided we were going to have two captains, and because of how much a specific girl's leadership stood out to us, Krista and I personally picked one and announced it. Then, we had the team vote for the other one,” said Coach Michelle. Senior Haley Kozlowski was the aforementioned athlete selected by the coaches, while Olivia DelBasso was selected by her teammates. Being the first captain ever hand-picked by the coaches, Haley said, “It made me feel appreciated. I felt that all of my hard work was never noticed and they finally noticed it.” Olivia and Haley were extremely enthusiastic about leading the team for the 2018-19 season.
Tryouts took place in May of 2018. As captains, Olivia and Haley were tasked with making up the cheer and dance for tryouts, like the captains are every year. Two of the tryout days consisted of learning the material, which included a cheer, a dance, and three jumps. On the third day, the athletes tried out individually. Around 28 athletes, including a male, tried out, and 23 of those athletes made the team.
During the first few practices after tryouts, the team started to get to know each other. Freshman Emily Miller said, “The rest of my teammates welcomed me and really made me feel like a part of the team the first practice, and as the season went on, we all just got so much closer.” Once they broke the ice a bit, they spent the summer stunting, tumbling, and learning the cheers.
Photo Credit: Mark Curcio
As the first football game of the season approached, the team was hard at work teaching the newcomers the cheers, and developing a halftime routine. However, before supporting the players on-the-field, the team supported them off-the-field by decorating the senior players’ lockers the night before the first game, which is an annual tradition. Each cheerleader was assigned a football player, whom the cheerleaders all spent nearly $90-$100 on to decorate the outside of the locker, as well as fill the inside with food. Senior football captain Steve Mingione said, “It’s a privilege to have our lockers decorated, and I was very grateful.” During each home and away game, the cheerleaders stood on crates, so they could see over the heads of the football players on the sidelines, to cheer on the boys. Olivia expressed, “Football season is my favorite. I like when we come together and cheer for one another, but especially football season because it’s the beginning of the year and it kicks everything off.” The cheerleaders are vital to the performance of the players. According to Steve, when the cheerleaders engage the crowd, it creates a more exciting and motivating atmosphere to play in. “It just makes you want to do better,” he said. The cheerleaders also perform at halftime to keep the crowd involved throughout the game.
Photo Credit:Krista Anania
During basketball season, the cheerleaders were twice as busy because they attended every single home game for both the boys and the girls. If you have attended any basketball games, you might have noticed the cheerleaders no longer cheer in the bleachers, but on the sidelines instead. Junior cheerleader Maia Thompson said, “We thought it would look better and help us support the boys and girls basketball teams in a better way, while being able to move around more. It also leaves more room on the bleachers for all the fans who come to watch.” At the last home boys basketball game on February 18, 2019, the cheerleaders had their Senior Night. The seniors were recognized one by one as they walked out with their families in front of the crowd. Senior Ashley Davis said, “I felt very nostalgic and sentimental since it was the last time I’d be able to ever cheer for a game in my cheerleading career.” Even though it was the seniors’ last time cheering on EHHS gym floor, they were not done quite yet.
Photo Credit: Krista Anania
Earlier in the season, tryouts for the competition team, the team that competes in competitions, were held. According to Coach Krista, “The competition team is a group of athletes who excel in many areas including, cheering, dancing, jumping, stunting, and tumbling.” Not all of the athletes on the cheerleading team are on the competition team; they must try out to earn one of the limited spots. Coach Krista also said, “Competition tryouts are held so we can put our best team out there on the mat [...] It’s required that a certain amount of athletes complete a certain amount of skills based on the number of athletes on the mat. We have tryouts in order to make sure we only have athletes on the team that can complete these skills.” The amount of athletes chosen for the competition team varies every year, but this year they capped it at 11. This past season, the competition team competed in four competitions. The first competition was the SCC competition, in which they placed 8th out of 13 teams. A misunderstanding with a rule resulted in a point deduction that should not have occurred, which would have landed them in 5th place. However, the team seamlessly moved past the setback, “After our first competition, it gave the team a second wind to keep pushing. We added more difficulty in our routine, which resulted us scoring much better throughout the season,” said Coach Krista. The team placed 3rd in their 2nd competition, 2nd in their 3rd competition, and 5th in their 4th competition. Despite their success, the team still had a few more bumps along the way. Mid-season, several cheerleaders decided they could not be on the competition team anymore, while others suffered from injuries. “We had many tough practices rearranging the routine. [...] After everything the team went through they were able to pull out an amazing routine, which at times I had not thought was going to be possible. I choreograph the routines, and watching my team pull it off just as I had pictured it in my head was amazing,” said Coach Krista. The team did not let anything hold them back from succeeding this year.
Maia will be one of the three returning seniors on the team next year. Regarding next year’s season, Maia exclaimed, “I’m looking forward to being able to take some charge on the team and set good examples for the underclassmen now that I’m a senior. I’m also excited to meet the new members of our team, put together a new routine, and have a fresh start after the rough patch we had this year.” Captains for next season have not been announced yet, according to Coach Michelle. Tryouts for the 2019-20 season will be held May 6, 7, and 8 in the EHHS gym. Please contact Mr. Verderame, Coach Michelle, or Coach Krista if you have any questions.