The Record-Review – The official newspaper of Bedford and Pound Ridge, New York

 

Co-ed cheer team wins first place at sectionals


By NATALIA BAAGE-LORD


WENDY CAMERIK PHOTO

Something to cheer!

Fox Lane High School’s co-ed varsity team won first place at Sectionals.

 


The cheerleaders sat in an inward-facing circle on the mat holding hands. When the announcer declared that Fox Lane High School won first place at the sectional championships, the cheerleaders popped up off of the ground. Then they hugged, jumped up and down, and screamed as loudly as possible.

Junior Dylan Camerik was on the verge of tears, and senior Kylie Flynn spun her friend around in circles. They were both happy that their varsity team earned first place in the Sectionals co-ed division — their first year in that category — which took place at Woodlands High School in Greenburgh on March 2.

Throughout their final routine, the faces of coaches Jen Mascolo and Nicole Ryan were lit up with smiles as they watched the cheerleaders execute cartwheels, jumps, backward handsprings and balancing acts. Ms. Ryan spent most of the time hitting Ms. Mascolo’s arm in excitement. They internally critiqued the moves, noting which throws and inversions were performed well and which tumbling techniques needed work. Kylie’s mother Kerry, herself a Fox Lane cheerleader three decades ago, cried from happiness, while Dylan’s mother Wendy cheered as loudly as she could.

Cheerleading has been an activity at Fox Lane High School for several decades but was transformed nearly 10 years ago, evolving from football team support of rhyming cheers and pom-poms to an athletic competition of gymnastics, precision and dance.

However, cheerleading is still not considered a sport at most high schools in the state. Ms. Ryan said it is hard for cheerleading to become a “real” sport as there are many intricacies hindering it. Nevertheless, Ms. Ryan and Ms. Mascolo said the students take cheerleading very seriously and are enthusiastic about competing.

“As a teacher in the district I taught some of these kids,” said Ms. Ryan, a sixth grade math teacher at Fox Lane. “It’s interesting to see them in another element and see how much they shine when they’re passionate about something.”

Dylan, who joined the team in 2010 as a freshman, noted that cheerleading is receiving more support from the Bedford Central School District than in the past.

“For the last few years people have said, ‘Oh, cheer is so stupid, you guys don’t do anything,’” said Kylie, a Fox Lane cheerleader since 2009. “They didn’t make fun of us but they didn’t acknowledge us. This year, people see us in the halls and say, ‘Oh, you guys are so good.’”

The 2012-13 season was long as students attended tryouts in May, intense cheer camp in August, practiced throughout the fall while cheering at sports games, and began competing against other schools in January. The cheerleaders were judged on difficulty and execution while also being watched for synchronicity, crowd appeal, vocal cheers, stunts, tumbling and dance.

“With cheerleading, it doesn’t only make you better as an athlete, but also as a person,” Dylan said. “It teaches you teamwork. As many times as you think it’s so hard and you just want to quit and it’s so annoying, deep down I don’t want to quit. I want to push myself.”

The team’s improvement came not only from hours of practice, but also from August’s grueling cheer camp. The four-day training in Honesdale, Penn., was exhaustive, said Kylie. They attended cheer and stunt classes throughout the day and worked until 9 p.m. Even in their dorm rooms at night the girls continued practicing to make sure their moves were correct.

The 2012-13 year was special, said Ms. Flynn-Barrett, as it was “history-making” — the first time the Fox Lane High School’s cheerleading squad competed as a co-ed team. At first the girls worried that their new male teammate, Donovan Beauford, would hamper their overall standing as they would have to compete under the co-ed category. Other co-ed teams have approximately seven boys, while Fox Lane had only one.

However, Donovan was quickly accepted by his teammates. Many of the cheerleaders called the squad their “second family,” saying that they would “do anything for each other.” When senior Amy Manjuck received yet another concussion, which forced her to stop competing, she became the team’s photographer.

“These guys are such a family,” said Ms. Flynn-Barrett, whose older daughter was also a Fox Lane cheerleader. “Their bond is amazing.”

In the end, the months of long practices paid off when the co-ed varsity team proudly clinched the sectional championship’s first-place trophy. Ms. Flynn-Barrett called their win the “highest honor” in high school cheerleading.

“All of the hard work finally paid off,” said Dylan. “All of our doubts were gone. We finally won. It’s such a good feeling.”

While not considered a sport by state standards, the cheerleading team will still get to watch their varsity banner rise up onto the gym’s wall in April.



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