NHS Varsity Cheerleaders Continue Winning Streak at “Cheer for a Cure”
Cheer for a Cure is an annual cheerleading competition which is hosted by the Bloomfield varsity cheer team. It is held at Foley Field in Bloomfield every October. This year’s event was held on Tuesday, October 15. The NHS varsity team continued Nutley’s legacy by winning first place in the American division, earning their ninth SEC championship title. Towns such as Cedar Grove,West Essex, Belleville, and several more competed for the first place trophy in their division.
However, Cheer for a Cure differs from the average cheer competition. It’s a lighthearted, uplifting environment where it is all about having fun, meeting new people, and most importantly, cheering for a cure. These teams come together, along with their towns support in the crowd, to increase awareness for breast cancer.
The Maroon & Gray interviewed one of NHS’s varsity cheer captains, Jenna Petracco, and the head coach, Breanna DeMatteo, about their personal experiences and memories from Cheer for a Cure over the years.
Growing up in Nutley’s recreational cheer program, being a varsity cheerleader is every girl’s dream, and Jenna has now grown to fulfill that dream she once had as a little girl. Jenna began cheering in third grade, looking up to the then-varsity squad. As captain of the NHS varsity cheerleaders this year, Jenna is appreciative of the team’s organization, acting as a unit, and free of drama this year. She is also proud of their involvement in Cheer for a Cure.
“At our last practice before Bloomfield, we gathered in a circle with a pink string tied around our wrists. We shared what we contribute to the team and what the team provides us with as a bonding activity,” Jenna said. She explained how the cheer team continues traditions and rituals that have been carried on for over a decade. “My favorite tradition is our team dinner hosted at our coach’s house the night before Bloomfield. We reminisce on past seasons, watch old competition videos, do team bonding activities, all to relieve our nerves for the day ahead.”
Jenna continued to describe the rush of emotions from this past Cheer for a Cure event. Because it was the seniors' final Cheer for a Cure event, the night was filled with a bittersweet feeling for the entire squad. “I am going to miss our pre-performance warm ups, hearing the crowd go crazy as we walk on the field, and the whole night in general,” said Jenna. Sitting in a circle linking hands while waiting for the winner to be announced is an overall favorite moment of the team’s. However, getting announced as the SEC champions,is the top moment for the team.
Nutley cheer holds the reigning title of SEC champions for the past nine years. This winning streak adds to the nerves and pressure as the team performs. Coach Breanna DeMatteo feels that this year’s varsity girls are impacting the Nutley community in a positive way by participating Cheer for Cure. “There are many benefits by participating in this event, however raising awareness for this cause is the most compelling,” said DeMatteo. “It is definitely a positive impact on our community. The girls have so much fun and work extremely hard for this event.”
For Jenna and the rest of the senior cheerleaders, it will be hard to say goodbye to being a Nutley cheerleader. From third grade to senior year, the 11 seniors have stuck together, made countless memories, and have built sisterly bonds with one another throughout their long journeys. These four years cheering for NHS will be what the seniors cherish most about high school. Coach DeMatteo likes to remind the team that high school will not be remembered by all of the parties, boys, or drama. This team, this experience, this family will be what the girls will miss the most and remember for years to come.