Tuckerton-Little Egg Harbor Leader

Pinelands Cheerleading Team Spirit Overcomes Adversity

Dec 07, 2018

Cheerleading is a year-round sport for members of the Pinelands Regional High School team.

“The cheerleading season really begins as soon as last year’s ended,” said coach Ashley DeBella-McNemer. “Even before tryouts, cheerleading team hopefuls are making class appointments to help gain new skill, as well as doing recommended exercises and circuit training to help improve their strength and flexibility.

“After tryouts, we attended stunt workshops to learn new techniques; practiced all summer with 6:30 a.m. practice times; had a choreographer come out to help with our routine; and attended UCA Elite Cheerleading Camp.

“Then the school year began and our season really started.

“This cheerleading team has had a lot of change thrown at them this year, as well as not having two schools open for space (due to construction at the high school building, forcing overcrowding in the junior high gym among teams forced to share space). Thankfully the West Tuckerton Volunteer Company, Station 71, has graciously opened its doors up to us again this year.

“With all that has been happening around them, our team focus is the same. Their hearts and talent have prevailed, and with each practice we have learned something about ourselves and our team.”

That team consists of seniors Kiera Deschin, Lindsey Maffei, Kasey Heisler, Haley Smyth, and Abigail Trettin; juniors Kayla Carson, Machaela Falduto, Isabelle Riccardo, Alexandra Mahr, Francesca Disanzo, and Rian Hood; sophomores Tiffani Lombardi and Gwyneth O’Donnel; and freshmen Liberty Pivola, Sarah Curtis and Gianna Barone.

Right now, the girls are preparing for two competitions early next year: the Garden State competition on Jan. 6, and one in Manchester on Jan. 12.

“My expectations for this team is that they work hard, do their best and continue to grow as cheerleaders and students,” said DeBella-McNemer. “We want to work on building this program up. It starts with working hard each practice, and then taking that work ethic and showing our community and youth cheerleaders that this is a team that they can admire and hope to be on one day.

“All the cheerleading teams throughout New Jersey are supportive of one another, and we have formed incredible bonds that I hope will continue for years to come. Good luck to everyone in their winter season!”

— Rick Mellerup

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