Little by little, the Monomoy Regional High School winter cheerleading team performed portions of its routine during the school’s boys and girls home basketball games in Harwich.
Despite fielding a young team comprised of many underclassmen, including freshmen and even eighth-graders, the team was able to master an entirely new — and more challenging, they say — routine between their own demanding practice schedule and their performances at the basketball games.
Monomoy’s hard work paid off as the team qualified for the Division 4 South championships held March 6 at Bellingham High School. After posting a third-place finish in the South championship, the girls capped off their season with an eighth-place finish at Sunday’s Division 4 state championship at Worcester State University.
“It was crazy,” said Audrey Smith, a senior from Harwich who noted the state championship was unlike anything the team had experienced last year, when COVID-19 limited their performances to the football games held in the spring.
“We did not expect at all that we would be going to states,” Smith continued. “I thought it was going to just be one competition and then done. It was amazing to be a part of the whole thing.”
While the end result was a success, reaching the ultimate pinnacle for Massachusetts high school cheerleaders wasn’t easy. Monomoy faced a strenuous journey throughout the season while different players battled illnesses and injuries
“This season has been a challenging one — from masks, to COVID, to illness and injuries,” said Monomoy cheerleading coach Robbin Kelley, who led the program alongside assistant coach Tammy Burke. “These young ladies have worked extremely hard learning how to cheer, stunt and tumble.”
In cheerleading, performances are broken down into three categories. While cheering is pretty straightforward, “stunting” is the act of lifting and throwing people and “tumbling” is the process of making yourself flip.
Becca Scott, a senior from Chatham who served as the team’s co-captain alongside classmate Sabrina Morand, said this year’s team was especially strong in tumbling.
“I believe this year we had more tumblers than ever before in recent years at Monomoy,” Scott said. “These are some of the hardest stunts I’ve done.”
Julia Calisto, a senior from Harwich, agreed with Scott about the routine, adding that this year’s was much more ambitious than a year ago.
“Last year, I feel like it was a little bit more laid back,” Calisto said. “This year, because we were preparing for our first competition, I felt like it was way harder. But we pushed through it — it was a great season.”
The combination of learning a harder routine than last year and overcoming adversity throughout the winter left the seniors feeling a sense of accomplishment after the state championship.
“I feel like this year we really showed Monomoy and many other people throughout Chatham and Harwich what cheerleading actually is and how hard it is,” Scott said.
Although the underclassmen still have many years to go before taking over the program as seniors, this year’s senior class is confident Monomoy cheerleading has a bright future.
“They’ll work really hard like they did this year,” Calisto said. “They are really hardworking girls and I have no doubt that they’ll go far in competitions like this year.”
Email Brad Joyal at firstname.lastname@example.org. Twitter: @BradJoyal