From Rebuild To Pinnacle: Cheer Squad Captures First State Title
Newtown High School’s cheerleading team followed up its South-West Conference championship with a Class LL state title — its first in program history. The Nighthawks had a score of 191.7 in their two-and-a-half-minute routine to earn the championship at Floyd Little Athletic Center in New Haven on March 7.
They had the best score among all competing teams from each of the state class sizes and finished comfortably ahead of runner-up Shelton (186.3).
“I’ve never felt this happy before,” cheerleader Emily Hammond said. “It was our goal from the beginning of the season. To be able to accomplish this goal with this group of people is nice.”
“They deserved it — they earned it,” Newtown Coach Susan Bridges said.
After the loss of four graduates who were strong team members, the cheer squad had a lot of tweaking of individual roles to figure out stunts as they begin creating routines.
“It was a rebuilding year to start. We lost a lot of strength with our graduating class last year,” Bridges said. “We really had to figure out a lot.”
The Nighthawks certainly figured it out, combining athleticism, skill, and teamwork to capture the crown.
“This team has the best dynamic — personality-wise and athleticism-wise,” team member Gina Lewis said.
The cheerleaders make it look easy. Cheer team members toss teammates called flyers, who soar high into the air; and there are tumbling moves, pyramids, and a variety of other stunts put together with pinpoint timing.
“It’s so hard for them to do what they do. The commitment level is insane,” Bridges said.
Newtown’s cheer squad worked hard throughout the preseason, beginning in late July, and into the school year, practicing almost daily and performing at halftime and along sidelines during football and basketball games.
Assistant Coach is Caitlin Delohery. Team members are Julia Pellicone, Emi Rosenthal, Caroline Tousignant, Gina Lewis, Allie Luby, Nicky Shairer, Emily Hammond, Tori Duarte, Danielle Vigneau, Angelina Visconto, Vicky Chop, Alexis Wasik, Katie Daoust, Abby McManus, Ally Pavilcek, and Lauren Milligan.