Anxious. Nervous. Scared.
The Broadalbin-Perth competitive cheer team huddled together last month at Guilderland High School, about to perform in their first-ever Section 2 Championship competition.
“They called our names and you get that heart-drop feeling into your stomach,” junior ShayLyn Springstead said. “Those are when the stakes are high, but the second you step out onto the mat, it all just goes away and you know what you’re doing.”
The Patriots placed second in Division 2 Small Varsity behind Scotia-Glenville. When the season started nine of the 13 members of the B-P team had never cheered competitively before.
“As soon as they were done with their performance and came off the floor, I cried,” head coach Courtney Buchanan said. “It was flawless. It was beautiful. They couldn’t have done it any better.”
The Patriots delivered an action-packed, two-and-half minute routine to Britney Spears music. They “hit zero,” or in other words, produced a perfect performance with no deductions.
“I cried when I got off the mat,” sophomore Maria Meola said. “I just really wasn’t sure if it was going to hit, and then we did and I was so relieved.”
“We were scared because a couple days prior, our routine wasn’t hitting as well as we wanted it to,” sophomore Gretta Bartow said. “Our warm-ups were fine, but we were all so nervous.”
With time running out before Sectionals, the team took a major risk and revamped their routine, adding harder stunts and more difficult skills.
“We definitely weren’t expecting to do as well as we did,” Springstead said. “Having an entirely new team go on to the mat and be able to perform a perfect routine at Sectionals was a really good feeling. I wasn’t expecting it to be as flawless as it was.”
This year B-P fielded a team for the first time since New York State started recognizing competitive cheerleading as a sport during the 2015-16 school year. In each of the team’s five competitions this year, including Sectionals, it never placed lower than second.
“It was especially nice to bring home a trophy to the school and prove we are a sport to all of the people who say we aren’t,” Springstead said.
“I always say that I’ll let anyone come to a practice that wants to, to see what it’s really all about,” Buchanan said.
Some drama students took her up on that offer to learn cheerleading moves for this year’s production, “Bring It On The Musical”.
“All their jaws hit the floor and they said ‘we never realized this is what you do,’” Buchanan recalled.
With no seniors on the team, the same core group is expected to return next season in pursuit of first place.