April 26, 2006
Hometown Cheerleaders Take Championship Title
You go, girls! After a dazzling demonstration of handsprings and daring stunts, pyramids and pure enthusiasm, the Riverhead High School Junior Varsity Cheerleaders really have something to shout out about — the squad recently scored its first-ever National Championship.
"It just hasn't sunk in," said squad member Natasha Brown. "I can't believe we came this far."
It's the stuff that dreams are made of. While most competitive teams strive to make it to the state championships, garnering national acclaim means grabbing the ultimate brass ring.
Riverhead High School's Junior Varsity team is comprised of 20 middle school and high school students. The girls cheered their hearts out all season and practiced double sessions and weekends to get their squad into shape for the national competition.
Along with their coaches, Florence Ofrias and Stephanie Cordeiro, the Junior Varsity Cheerleaders traveled to Hershey, Pennsylvania in March to compete in the MGN National Championships. The MGN Cheerleading Company hosted over 125 teams from around the United States at the Hershey Park Arena.
Competing in the JV High School Division, the Riverhead Junior Varsity Cheerleaders beat out 15 other teams in their class for the honor of National Champions.
"We had a rough start," said squad member Madeline Demere, who noted that the girls also had to adapt to a new coach, Cordeiro, in the middle of their arduous practice schedule. "We had been through so much — it felt good to win!" she said.
Kristin Swcz faced an even more daunting challenge when she was called upon last minute to replace one of the JV squad members who was sick on the day of the trip to Hershey. Already on the varsity squad, Swcz, whose favorite cheerleading stunt is "spunting," or throwing girls in the air, said the win "was awesome. I had never won first place before."
Now reigning as First Place National Champions in their division, the Riverhead Cheerleaders squad includes Taryn Bitzer, Natasha Brown, Alerie Burke, Andrea Chauloff, Madeline Demere, Kerry Gaffney, Caitlin Houghton, Alyssa Hubbard, Kristin Kurtz, Melanie McKay, Priscilla McMillan, Lauren Mickelinich, Amanda Muller, Shantice Nieves, Samantha Orlando, Ciara Seymore, Katelyn Spano, Katelyn Stephens, Leah Stewart, Jessica Watts, and Rachel Wells.
Demere, whose favorite cheerleading move is tumbling, said her teammates are determined to stay on top. "We want to keep working as hard as we have been," she said.