Cheerleaders journey into competition season
The 6-3 football team from Nutley High School received support all season long from the cheerleading squad. With the season coming to an end, the cheerleaders shifted their goals and began to get ready for their competition season. The memories formed on the field during these games were emotional for several of these cheerleaders, 11 of whom were seniors, but the girls were excited to start their season after their victory at the Super Essex Conference back in October.
During the football season, the cheerleaders and coach started choreographing their routine, which they then performed at halftime. Now that competition season was in effect, it was crucial to make sure that this routine complied with all the standards of the score sheets for their "All Music Large Division" before bringing it to the mat to perform for a panel of judges.
To do this, it was vital for the cheerleaders to start improving the skills they were previously showcasing. The division the Nutley cheerleaders are placed in includes a set of stunts, tumbling, jumps, and motions. Although these girls were accustomed to performing on a turf field, moving their routine to a spring floor gave them more room to execute challenging tumbling passes and stunts.
The cheerleaders spent 6 hours a week in the Nutley High School gym drilling new stunts that surpassed the previous difficulty they were showcasing. They also were provided with the Flippin' Out Gymnastics spring floor in Nutley on Sunday mornings to work the tumbling passes they were going to choose to compete. With these resources, the girls were pushing themselves to gain the best skills they could to get ready for these competitions.
“Crafting this routine was not easy”, said Laura Feraco, the cheerleading coach, who spent her time trying to come up with various transitions, motions, and ideas to help elevate this routine. Due to dance and other extracurricular activities, some girls did not choose to compete over this season, and Feraco was challenged to find new transitions and stunt groups that coordinated well.
After drilling multiple tumbling passes and stunts, Feraco choreographed the basis of the routine. The cheerleaders spent practice time fully adding all of these elements together piece by piece until the routine was finally done.
The girls performed multiple full outs, which included all elements of their routine from start to finish at practice. After these full outs, Feraco would break down each section to help the girls feel confident in every part of the routine they were set out to perform.
“It was definitely difficult at first putting all of these elements together after losing some girls from football season and finding new ways to work together. This routine is a lot more challenging but I can’t wait to showcase it to everyone,” said senior Sabrina Sperry, captain of the team.
The team set out on their first competition of the season at Wayne Valley High School on January 22 where they took 2nd place. “It was not our best performance but we can use this as a learning experience to see what we need to improve on for our next competitions before the State competition," said Feraco.
Their next competitions take place at David Brearley High School on February 4, St. John Vianney High School on February 12, and Brookdale Community College on February 25, which is the NJCDCA States competition. These cheerleaders are determined to improve their performance of this routine and work together to win.