As the 15 Blind Brook High School winter season cheerleaders circled on a mat on the floor during the UCA Empire Regional Competition at Nassau Community College on Dec. 2, they were confused when they were handed an envelope after hearing their name announced.
With big eyes, they looked at their coach Cher Treacy, who knew exactly what was going on. “Look inside,” she told them. And when they did, she heard 15 screams and cries.
“You’re invited,” read the note inside, and with that the cheerleaders knew they were going to nationals for the first time in Blind Brook history.
With daily practices to improve the difficulty and skill level of their routine, the cheer team is preparing to travel to Walt Disney World for the 2019 National High School Cheerleading Championship. They’ll be packing up their spirit and pom-poms for the competition Feb. 8-10 to show both Orlando, Fla. and their school how much they’ve progressed as a team over the years. In the meantime, they’re raising money for the journey.
“This is our first time going to nationals. Our first invitation and our first try to even get one,” Treacy said, while noting Blind Brook has had a cheer team for at least 20 years. “It’s really exciting. This is a really good group, they work really hard and they just want to push themselves to the next level.”
Traditionally focusing on cheer during the Blind Brook High School football and basketball games, the cheerleaders collectively decided last winter they wanted to start being more competitive. They’ve put in a lot of work, have developed skills worthy of pride, and wanted something to show for it.
“We didn’t get that much respect at school, a lot of people don’t see cheer as a sport or as important as it is to us,” explained junior Alyssa Arnett, one for the winter season captains. “I think getting to nationals made them realize that we’re actually good at this and put in a lot of work.”
“There’s so much talent on this team and it wasn’t very well executed at games,” added senior Catherine D’Ambrosio, a fall season captain. “So, it’s nice taking it out and showing everyone what we can do.”
At nationals, the Blind Brook cheer team will be competing as a small school, tumbling co-ed team. Tumbling, as Treacy explained, meaning they incorporate gymnastic skills such as cartwheels and flips into their routine.
They’re contending in the Game Day division, she continued, which is similar to a sporting event routine but involves more dance segments and coordination.
Many of the cheerleaders have some experience with gymnastics from childhood, but most modern skills were acquired through efforts with the team, which intensified after they focused on becoming more competitive. The decision inspired many of them to take a tumbling class together in Spring 2018 to prepare for now.
“When I joined as a freshman, it was really fun, but you could tell we weren’t really up there difficulty wise and we didn’t know as much,” said junior Sophia Mullaly, the other winter season captain. “It was really cool to see over the past few years how much work we’ve put in and how much we’ve improved. The fact that we can go to nationals now because of all that work we’ve done, that’s really cool.”
The captains described their team as a family. After all, they spend roughly two hours a day practicing together. They’re excited to strengthen their bond during the upcoming trip to Florida, but first they’re on a mission to raise funds.
For the last few weeks, the cheer team has facilitated multiple fundraising efforts. It started with collecting bottles from schoolmates. Mullaly thinks it’s evident that the rest of the school is supporting them more now, largely because they’ve helped contribute to their money raising efforts.
Currently, the cheerleaders also have a GoFundMe account dedicated to raising money for the trip. To support the team, visit gofundme.com/blind-brook-cheerleading.