RHAM squad holds cheerleading clinic

By Melanie Savage - Staff Writer
Hebron - posted Mon., Aug. 1, 2011
Amanda participates in an ice-breaking activity during the RHAM cheerleading clinic on July 30. Photos by Melanie Savage.
Amanda participates in an ice-breaking activity during the RHAM cheerleading clinic on July 30. Photos by Melanie Savage.

Assembled during tryouts in May, the 2011-12 RHAM cheerleading squad is already hard at work bonding as a team and perfecting their skills. Among the squad’s summer activities was attendance at the New England Cheerleading Association camp, held July 18-21 at Mitchell College in New London.

“The girls haven’t been to an away camp for a few years,” said the squad’s coach, Angelina Mancarella. The camp allowed the girls to learn new skills and an opportunity to show them off during a competition at the camp’s completion. The RHAM squad took home first place for dance, first place for stunting and tied for second for their overall routine. They also took home the camp sportsmanship award. “It’s a big bonding experience, too, which is great,” said Mancarella.

Bonding as a team is an important aspect of preparation for the upcoming season, which will find the squad cheering at football games, home games for boys’ soccer and pep rallies. “We do a lot with homecoming, too,” said Mancarella.

Participation in fall sports activities helps prepare the squad for the competition season, which runs January through March. Tryouts for the competitive team will take place right before Thanksgiving. Mancarella said that the school has opted to keep the competitive and team season squads separate to allow for members who might want to participate in other sports. Some members of the current squad, for example, are also involved in gymnastics. “We don’t have as many members who switch back and forth anymore,” said Mancarella, “but we’ve opted to leave [the squads separate] for now.”

Another of the squad’s summer activities was the cheerleading clinic held at RHAM on July 30. The event drew a gym full of girls in grades one through nine, many of whom are involved with local recreational cheerleading squads. The day-long event offered an opportunity to hang out with the “big girls,” have some fun and play some games, as well as the opportunity to work on basic cheerleading skills such as jumps, stunts and tumbling.

Clinic participants represented a wide variety of skill levels, but an end-of-session routine, worked on during the afternoon for presentation to parents, offered an opportunity for everyone to participate. While older girls worked on stunts involving lifting, younger participants perfected a dance routine requiring less-risky skills.

Safety, said Mancarella, is something that is always a consideration in cheerleading. “Concussions are a big concern lately in every sport,” said Mancarella. Since cheerleaders cannot wear helmets, technique becomes even more important. “A lot of it is making sure the girls are well-prepared for the skills that they’re doing,” said Mancarella. “Technique is very important. So is spotting, making sure there are always people there watching.”


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