Monroe Township High School competitive cheerleading team took first place at the Nationals competition on Saturday, March 24 and Sunday, March 25 2018 in Orlando, Florida at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena to end their undefeated season.
The team is composed 24 girls of all grades and coached by Erica Brown, Laura Sidler, Sarah Pramberger, and Rebecca Tessler. The cheerleaders and coaches have been practicing since the summer of 2017, and started to compete their routine in January 2018, ending with a record of 10-0.
The goal for the season is to compete at the final competition, Nationals, and take the gold.
This year, the last and biggest competition was held in Orlando. The trip was qualified as a school trip with excused absences and teacher supervision. It was paid for through fundraising, competition bids (a company sponsor), and personal funds.
An undefeated season does not come easy, nor does flying to Florida.
The team was originally ready to catch their flight from Trenton Airport that was to take off around six AM after meeting at MTHS at three AM. However, Winter Storm Toby (the nor’easter that hit the east coast in late March) resulted in their flight being cancelled just hours before take-off.
Sophomore Gianna Arcaro said, “It was so stressful to have our flight being canceled. We worked so hard and it just felt like, so unfair to do everything that we did to get there, and then have it canceled.”
However, parents, team members, and coaches did not give up on the competition. Everyone was on the phone with bus companies and airlines trying to work something out on such short notice for 27 people.
After bags were packed and checked by coaches, they ended up boarding a bus. With less than a 24 hour notice, they had a 19 hour bus ride to Orlando ahead of them.
Arcaro says, “What our parents and coaches did for the team is incredible. While the bus ride was torture, none of us complained. I, for one, was just happy to be going after all.”
Things were automatically changed around due to the snow storm. Initially, the team would have arrived at Orlando Airport on Thursday, March 22 at 8:45 AM. However, with taking a bus, they arrived at the The Allstar Sports Resort a day later in the late afternoon.
Freshman Ava Maddox said, “The bus ride was definitely a new experience. I can’t say I want to do it again, or will ever, you know, look at busses the same, but, it got us there and I am grateful.”
With all of the delays in transportation, what and where the team would be spending their days was up in the air.
They ended up spending day one in Magic Kingdom. Day two was at the hotel, then competing at ESPN Wide World of Sports Arena, and spending the night at Disney springs. Day three was the final competition at the same arena and then off to Epcot. The final day was Animal Kingdom, team brunch, and then off to the airport back to New Jersey.
What days the team would be in which park was what was mostly affected, as well as the hours they had at each park. With the loss of days, the team did not get to visit Hollywood studios and lost out on traditions like the team dinner, which was to be held at the Polynesian in Magic Kingdom where the whole team would all match in black shirts and jeans.
Sophomore Ashley Kozar said, “Even though we lost hours in the park, the experience was still amazing. Performing for a crowd with all of your best friends is a feeling that cannot be topped.”
The girls had a season full of ups and downs until the very end. They worked hard for their title and were pleased with the outcomes.
“I cannot believe that the season is over. It truly was an amazing one, with everyone constantly working their hardest,” says junior Nicole Ryan.
The end of a difficult nine months and seniors leaving brought tears to so many of the cheerleaders’ eyes as they came off of the mat the last time. First place was a bittersweet end for the girls – not wanting it to be over, but at the same time proud of what they had accomplished.
What do you think of the cheerleaders’ Florida ordeal?