Teamwork focal point for cheerleading squad

The Eastern cheering squad is determined to make this year its best year. With a team consisting of just 10 girls, one could assume that this may be a burden. Despite their small number, however, there is reason to be excited about Eastern’s cheerleading team this year.

“We’re doing better things with 10 cheerleaders than we were doing with 18 two years ago,” said coach Rebecca Nadelhoffer.

Junior Suzanne Giuliano, one of the captains of this year’s cheerleading team, agreed.

“There are not that many of us, but that’s not holding us back,” she said.

In addition to having a smaller squad, there have been a number of other changes the team has had to adjust to. Most notably, perhaps, is the addition of an assistant coach, Melissa Gibbs.

Even though assistant coach is a new role for Gibbs, she is no stranger to Eastern’s cheerleading program. A 2004 Eastern graduate, she was last year’s team captain.

“It’s cool to have Melissa because a lot of us cheered with her last year,” said senior co-captain Jen Booz.

“It’s nice to have someboday to bounce ideas off of,” added Nadelhoeffer.

“I loved this program as a cheerleader going to school here,” Gibbs said. “To stay and watch the program grow, to help it grow, has been an awesome experience for me.”

Co-captains Booz and Giuliano expressed their appreciation for both coaches.

“If people can’t be [at practice], both of them step in and stunt with us,” Booz said. “They can throw up to stunts just like the rest of us.”

“[Nadelhoffer] pushes us to do what she knows we’re capable of,” Giuliano said.

Another big change to the team has been the addition of tumbling stunts, which include round-offs and back handsprings. Last year none of the girls did tumbling, and this year there are four tumblers.

A lot of work has gone into making the team what it is. Tumbling practice is on Tuesdays, and regular practice is on Mondays and Fridays.

These practices start off with a mile to a mile-and-a-half run. After stretching, the team works on their different routines for time-outs, halftime and cheerleading competitions.

Nadelhoffer added that during practices “there’s usually a lot of laughing. It’s a fun team.”

There are a number of special events and activities planned for the team this year, according to Nadelhoffer. One activity involved the cheerleaders and the basketball team. The two teams cleaned up the nature trail behind the McInnis parking lot.

On December 4, junior high students will cheer at halftime in an event called Kid’s Day. The team also plans on running a free cheerleading clinic in the city. The team will go into Philadelphia and teach children beginner cheerleading moves.

And, of course, there will be some cheerleading competitions. So far there are competitions scheduled for January and March, but Nadelhoffer hopes to add some more.

Until then, Gibbs encourages everyone to “come to the basketball games” and see the cheerleaders perform.

“Look for some crazy stuff this year,” Nadelhoffer said. “We have some new tricks up our sleeve.”

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