Hardworking, dedicated cheerleaders have their eye on states

By Christian Mysliwiec - Staff Writer
Manchester - posted Wed., Jan. 2, 2013
(L-r) Senior Dakota Kibby, freshman Keyla Ortiz and senior Julianna Mullinar wait to begin a cheer during the boys' varsity basketball team's home game against Glastonbury. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.
(L-r) Senior Dakota Kibby, freshman Keyla Ortiz and senior Julianna Mullinar wait to begin a cheer during the boys' varsity basketball team's home game against Glastonbury. Photos by Christian Mysliwiec.

With only 16 athletes, this year’s squad is one of the smallest cheerleading teams Manchester High School has ever had. But that is no reason to underestimate them; according to coach Danyelle Ross, the girls are dedicated, hardworking, and when it comes to their competitive routine, learning fast.

“We have a lot of young athletes,” said Ross. “They majority of them are freshmen and sophomores.” While this will be their first time competing at the high school level, they are receiving guidance and help from the small group of upperclassmen on the team. These juniors and seniors have been trained by Ross their entire high school experience, and they, in turn, are passing down their skills to the new athletes. “It helps teach them responsibility,” said Ross.

In addition to cheering at sports events and boosting school pride, the team competes at the end of the season. They must perform a two-and-a-half-minute routine that requires tumbling skills, jumps, dance, cheers and – most importantly – stunting.

“Some people hire a choreographer; we do not,” said Ross. Their routine this year is created by them, and they have been working on it since November.

They have three competitions this year. First, they will compete at the CCC North division competition on Feb. 2, followed by the Windsor Warrior Challenge on Feb. 16, and ending with the state competition in March.

Ross is confident about how the team will perform. “They are accomplishing really difficult stunts and taking way less time to accomplish them then I expected,” she said. “They're very motivated to learn. This is the most tumbling we've had in years.”

In a team full of dedicated and motivated athletes, it is difficult for Ross to identify any one stand-out athletes. However, she pointed out the dedication of Jackie Taylor, who is committed to pursuing cheerleading after high school and has attended practices with college-level teams.

Ross also noted that of the three captains this year, two are juniors. They are Shelby Tidemand and Imani Bailey, along with senior Jaylene Lopez. While captains are usually seniors, Ross believes leadership qualities trump age. She chooses captains herself, instead of letting the athletes nominate their own captains or vote on one. If a girl displays positive leadership qualities during try-outs or initial practices, Ross will consider her for captain. This year, Tidemand, Bailey and Lopez proved that they had the qualities to lead. “These girls just stepped up, not knowing that they were going to get chosen, not even expressing that they want to be captains,” she said. “They earned the spot.”


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