The cheerleading squad had a different look this season. Not only did the T-Birds have a new coach in , but half of the squad was new to the sport.
“When I first found out that the position for the cheerleading coach was open, I knew that taking the job would entail a lot of work, not only from me as the coach, but also from the girls on the team,” said Laudano. “My main goal was to build up the team in every way possible.”
Only five members of this year’s 19-girl team had competition experience prior to the 2011-12 season. The T-Bird began practicing late in the summer and began cheering at football games at the start of the fall season.
Laudano said that as the season went on, the team began to master new skills and add complexity to its routines.
Heading into the season, the T-Birds’ primary goal was to , which they accomplished. North Branford entered four competitions, including states, and brought home two third-place trophies.
“I could not be happier with the way that the season turned out,” said Laudano. “Each day the girls would amaze me and go past what my original expectations were. This team had such potential and I am glad that I was able to be around when everyone was able to see it.”
Laudano credits the team’s four seniors–who were all captains–for greatly contributing to this season’s success. Eve Calamita (main base), Danielle Porto (secondary base), Maddie Slubowski (main base/flyer) and Fallon Smith (flyer) met with Laudano to discuss the season, helped choreograph the routines, organized team events and took charge at summer practices.
In addition to the captains, members of the squad included freshmen Emily Bergeron (main base), Rachel DaCunto (secondary base), Cheyanna DeRosa (flyer), Alexandra Galluba (main base), Olyvia Gleason (secondary base), Carly Mastriano (flyer), Mia Ney (main base) and Kathleen Yotsavath (back spot); sophomores Joanna Despotaskis (back spot), Jessica Raucci (secondary base), Shannon Rivera (back spot) and Alexandria Smith (front spot/flyer); and juniors Savanah Gallipoli (front spot/flyer), Bianca Smith (flyer) and Samantha Whitaker (back spot).
In addition to cheering at games and competing this season, the T-Birds also found time to give back to the community. The cheerleaders hosted a cheer clinic where they taught young girls a dance and a cheer. The youngsters then got to participate in Spirit Night, learning a halftime routine they performed at a varsity football game.
The T-Birds collected items for the at boys’ basketball games for the and are also starting to give back to .
“In the future I see this team not only getting more involved in the school and community, but also taking the sport to new levels, said Laudano. “Now that our first year is out of the way and these girls have shown me what they are capable of, I am ready to take them to the top and I know they are ready to go there. This is an unstoppable, highly motivated group of girls and definitely a team that is going to do big things.”