By: J.L. Shively
The West Orange Cheerleading squads showed off their team spirit at regionals this past Dec. taking home wins in three different divisions.
Regional competitions took place at both Kutztown University in PA for the Pocono Regionals and in Toms River for the Northeast Regionals. Three different cheerleading teams from West Orange attended these competitions, including Varsity, Varsity Game Day and Junior Varsity teams.
The journey to these competitions was not easy, notes Cheerleading Coach Olivia DelSpina.
“With an entirely new coaching staff there was a transition period in the beginning,” says DelSpina, who is in her first year taking over the program at West Orange.
Despite the change in coaching staff the girls at West Orange are in good hands.
“I come from an extensive cheerleading background, competing nationally and cheering both throughout high school and college,” says DelSpina.
Having attended Rutgers University, DelSpina is now also the head coach at Seton Hall University.
The assistant coach, Taylor Calixto, comes from an extensive and experienced competitive cheerleading background and cheered for Hofstra as well as Team USA.
DelSpina notes that the team began the season on a high note while at UCA summer camp in August, taking home first place trophies in cheer and X-treme Routine competitions. These wins started the season strong and added to the sense of comradery the girls feel.
The varsity team started off its regular season with a win at the SEC Conference Championship in the Liberty division. Varsity also took home the “overall stunting grand champs at the event,” notes DelSpina and admits that its season endured a bit of a lull after the win but “now that the team has gained more confidence in their skills and overcome these hurdles we are hoping to continue succeeding until the end of our season.”
The girls practice five days a week and work on compiling routines for competitions and football games. The performances which the teams took to regional championships included a two and a half minute routine which is started with a one minute cheer and completed with a music section which contains “jumps, stunting, dancing and pyramids,” says DelSpina.
The Game Day team routine is a three minute routine which simulates a football game. The routine is compiled between three segments consisting of the schools fight song, a sideline cheer and a cheer section while including many of the same components of a traditional routine. For this competition, DelSpina explains, “there is a large emphasis in this division on game day readiness and overall crowd leading abilities.”
The titles which the teams won include UCA Pocono Regional Medium Varsity Non Tumble Division Winner, UCA Pocono Regional JV Non Tumble Division Winner and UCA NorthEast Regional Large Varsity Game Day Non Tumble Division Winner.
DelSpina says “this is the first time WOHS has taken a JV team to a qualifying event and we are so proud of their big win and know this is a stepping stone to create a JV nationals team in the near future.”
These events at Regionals qualify the teams to compete in National High School Cheerleading Championship, NHSCC in Orlando, Fla. in Feb., which both Varsity and Varsity Game Day teams will be attending.
The squads were overjoyed and excited about their win and their coaches express pride in their performances.
“We have incorporated very difficult new skills this year and we are excited to see them execute this difficulty moving forward,” says DelSpina. Certainly WOHS Cheerleading is a team to watch this year.