The members of Southold High School’s competitive cheerleading team have proven themselves to be dedicated to their new sport and committed to improving themselves. They are also pretty smart, too.
In addition to taking their talents to the mat this past season, the Southold cheerleaders have been taking care of business in the classroom.
Southold was recognized as the New York State scholar-athlete team champion for competitive cheerleading Friday when the New York State Public High School Athletic Association announced the top teams in each of the 13 winter sports. As the only state champion from Suffolk County, Southold’s team posted a grade-point average of 95.97.
Along with the other state champion scholar-athlete teams, Southold will be presented with a banner as well as a team certificate and pins for each team member. This is the 24th year of the NYSPHSAA’s scholar-athlete program.
“How exciting,” Southold coach Kathy Williams said in a phone interview on Friday when she learned of the news while on a college visit in Tampa, Fla.
Southold athletic director Mike Brostowski said: “It’s a huge honor for our girls and our coach. It just shows that they’re dedicated to their team and their academics.”
The Southold boys basketball team ranked 11th as the top Suffolk team in the state with a 95.94 GPA. In girls basketball, Bishop McGann-Mercy (97.83) was fourth and Mattituck (97.08) was 14th.
The Southold cheerleaders building up such a high academic average didn’t come as a surprise to Williams, a business teacher at Southold High School who teaches college accounting and computer classes among other courses. A number of her students followed her onto the cheerleading team.
“I’m very impressed because these girls, if we have the gym for two hours, they want to practice five hours because they’re a terrific group,” said Williams, who is in her second year as the coach.
This past season was the first in which competitive cheerleading was officially recognized as a sport in New York State. Southold took part in three competitions.
“I thought it was a great experience for our girls,” Brostowski said. “They put so much hard work, effort and dedication into their routines and their stunts. They deserve the recognition.”
Because of the limited pool it had to draw from, the 19-member Southold team had difficulty in competition, said Williams. “We were limited in talent but we made up for it in heart,” she said.
The team members were: Sabrina Basel, Katie Baumann, Olivia Daddona, Jacqueline Davey, Raquel Escobar, Kimiko Fujita, Katherine Jarvis, Kate Jones, Courtney Kruk, Ann Lincoln, Olivia Lynch, Ewa Mejsak, Paige Messana, Rosanna Mollica, Annette Newman, Josselin Rodriguez, Daisy Rymer, Julia Schade and Victoria Tondo.
The team hired a choreographer and worked on stunting at North Fork Cheer in Cutchogue.
“We raised it up another notch,” said Williams, who noted that the demands on cheerleaders have grown since she cheered for Brentwood High School. Next year, she said, “Our plan is to be more organized and just be better.”
As for the cheerleaders themselves, Williams said, “They’re smart and wonderful.”
Photo caption: Southold’s cheerleaders were recognized Friday as state scholar-athlete team champions with a grade-point average of 95.97. (Credit: Courtesy of Kathy Williams)