Written by Amber Corrigan|
Photos via CIAC photographers, Morgan cheerleading coaches, Maddie Davenport and Clara Franzoni
The Morgan cheerleading squad has been in and out of practice for months preparing for its big debut at the All Shoreline Competition at Westbrook High School on February 22, 2020. This year the Lady Huskies competed against six different teams from the Shoreline Conference. The Lady Huskies were at this competition during the 2018 and 2019 seasons. In 2018, they won 1st place and were the very first team to be named Shoreline Champions because that was also the first year of the competition. Sophomores at the time, Kylie Isleib and Amber Corrigan, were both named 2nd Team All Shoreline.
This year’s two senior nominees, Amber Corrigan and Lauren Jazinsky, performed in front of a panel of judges and other teams in a small gym before the competition for the squads begins. The performance consists of two jumps (one of their choice), and one cheer and dance that is provided by CIAC. If the nominees don’t want to do a dance, they can do a tumbling pass instead.
All Shoreline is a separate part of the competition. The nominees from each team tryout on their own for a single title under their name. Once the tryouts are done there is about a 2 hour wait time before the actual teams compete against each other. During that time, teams are given time slots to warm up stunts, jumps, tumbling, and eventually go through the whole routine as a practice run.
The girls warm up in the same gym with other teams, so the pressure is on. Every team sits patiently while waiting for their turn on the mat. They selfishly hope that their competitors don’t execute their stunts. Former cheerleader, Kylie Isleib, confirmed that this is what goes through cheerleaders’ heads while they watch the other teams: “I 100% hoped that they would fall during warm-ups because it boosts the confidence of your own team,” Isleib said with no hesitation.
The girls worked very hard to prepare, but they have had a difficulties along the way. Over the past three years, the team has had three different coaches. The most recent coach, unfortunately, had to resign from the position earlier this year. Their new coach, Brita Rayner, stepped in at the end of the fall season and had to quickly start putting a routine together while getting to know the girls on the team. The Huskies are the first high school team Coach Rayner has coached. Fortunately, she was able to put together a routine with a little help from the seniors on the team.
Following the struggle of the coaching situation, the Lady Huskies have had quite a battle with injuries and illnesses throughout their winter season. Starting the season off with two concussions, a broken toe, and girls with many illnesses, some girls were or have been out for weeks which makes things very difficult at practice.
For those who aren’t familiar with the sport, cheerleaders can’t necessarily “sub” out one another. Every girl has a job on the mat. If someone is hurt or sick, that requires someone else to learn their part for the time being. At the beginning of the season, the team lost 4 girls within the first few months of the fall season, so right now they are working with the bare minimum they can.
Coach Rayner and the captains had to rework the routine with the girls that remained. They changed stunts, formations, and tumbling, with only two weeks before the competition. The girls struggled at practice when everyone they needed at practice was not there but their hopes for success remained high. Senior captain Emma Lehn mentioned that “It’s all about the attitude. If you have a bad attitude. It’s not going to work.”
The Lady Huskies placed 6th at the All Shoreline Competition. Lauren was named 2nd Team All Shoreline and Amber was named 1st team. The girls also placed 3rd in their division at their NECA (New England Cheer Association) competition the following weekend. On March 7, the Lady Huskies will be participating in the state competition at Hill House in New Haven. Come support!