On Saturday, Feb. 2, the Sayville junior varsity cheerleading squad won first place at their competition in Longwood following a first-place victory at their competition a week before at West Babylon.
The JV team is one of the smallest teams competing in the class B/C division with 11 athletes, who each “play an incredibly important role in our success,” said coach Victoria Herrmann.
“Our biggest strength is our tumbling numbers, meaning our percentage of athletes who have tumbling skills in the routine. One hundred percent of our athletes tumble at some point in the routine and we have five standing tucks that open the routine,” said Hermann.
Tenacity was cited as one of the team’s strongest values and something that has “persisted through each obstacle thrown our way over our five months together.”
This team has competed five other times this winter season:
•1st @ West Babylon (1/28)
•1st @ East Islip (12/10)
•2nd @ Kings Park (12/17)
•2nd @ Mt. Sinai (1/2)
•4th @ Half Hollow Hills (12/3)
“While we placed top 5 in week one, which is incredible in this competitive division, these athletes set a goal to be top 3 at each competition, which really motivated them to find ways to increase their score week after week,” said Herrmann.
Throughout the season, Herrmann said the team learned the “true meaning of teamwork and the importance each individual has on the team.”
Especially being a smaller team, “everyone's role is vital to this routine and our success. As a team, they have also truly learned how to be flexible in their thinking and adapt to change that benefits the team as a whole, even when that means their role in a particular section of the routine needs to be changed.”
Pushing each other to continue to develop and grow their skills resulted in upgrading the routine each week.
“The skills we competed with in week one have been upgraded throughout the season to more difficult skills. Many of our athletes also participate in additional tumbling training outside of our practice schedule to bring more skills to our routine. This team holds each other up, both literally and figuratively. They are so supportive of one another and when things don't go our way never place blame; they fully understand we are a team,” said Herrmann.
The winning routine was choreographed by Brittany Lucchesi from Long Island Cheer, where the squad practices twice a week.
“Practicing at Long Island Cheer gives us access to lots of equipment and expertise to help further develop our tumbling and stunting skills,” said Herrmann.
The pyramid was upgraded from their December first-place finish and is said to be the team’s favorite.
“In this section, we perform hand-in-hand, which is an inverted stunt in which the flyer is in a handstand position connected to her base's hands and we release that skill. The flyer (also known as top girl) inverts that skill and the bases catch her feet. From there, we perform what is known as a "double dragon." In this skill the flyer spins from the extension (above head level of the bases) down to a prep position (eye level) and then spins back to the top. This part of the routine is when you really start to hear the ‘oooos’ and ‘ahhs’ from the crowd,” said Herrmann.
Payton Yonick and Ella Lagonigro lead the team throughout the season with their reliability and assistance in organizing the team to have a cohesive spirit.
“They have both also been shining examples of leaders when it comes to the tough moments in sports,” said Herrmann.
Sophomore Ryan Walker, who joined cheerleading as a freshman, is “an incredible asset to our team! Not only does he have incredible tumbling throughout our routine, including a standing tuck and round-off handspring layout, but he also bases and flies in the routine!”
Herrmann said the Sayville community “has always been such a huge support” in attending games and through fundraising.
“As a program, we also all support each other from our youth program all the way through varsity. We are always there to cheer each other on,” said Herrmann.