By NIMISHA KUMAR ’22
Edison High cheerleaders made a historical win this past season, with their first state title in school history. The cheerleaders won first place in the Varsity Intermediate Coed and Game Day Coed divisions.
On February 29, the New Jersey Cheerleading and Dance Association held its annual Cheerleading State Championship. This event took place virtually from Brookdale Community College. The Edison High cheer team beat sixteen other all-girl teams and won overall for the intermediate division for their performance routine. Additionally this past season, the cheer team won a virtual local competition from Woodbridge High School.
The Eagle’s Eye reached out to head cheerleading coach, Nicole Gregoire, to gain some insight on Edison High’s past cheerleading season.
EE: In general, how has this past cheerleading season been?
NG: I would definitely say challenging because there were lots of moving parts. We had to quarantine, as a full team, multiple times between January and February. The fact that they were able to come together and learn two entire routines in that very short amount of time, I was very impressed with them.
EE: What was the schedule change like?
NG: Normally you have from August until January to learn and practice a routine. However, this season we did not have that luxury and had to put together our routine in January to compete with it during February and March. Luckily, a lot of the cheerleaders were very flexible, not only with their personal schedules but with how quickly they were able to learn and change routines.
EE: How has Edison High cheerleading changed due to the pandemic?
NG: We had smaller teams this year; we had fewer people come out for our JV team. The students on the team did a really good job of working together. They managed to get so much accomplished in the two months we were able to work together. I’ve honestly never had a team that was so dedicated to making this happen and they’re more than deserving of their win.
EE: What is it like to compete in virtual cheer competitions?
NG: Actually, at first I was very hesitant about the idea. I didn’t know how I felt about the concept of everyone being able to take as many videos as they want before they sent it in. However, they set some official guidelines which made me feel better… By submitting a video with an [assigned] code displayed in the beginning, no one could use the same video for every single routine or for any other purpose.
EE: How was the adjustment to the virtual competitions?
NG: Honestly, I think virtual competitions were way more stressful for all of us. Because obviously everyone wants perfection but in reality, perfection is usually not attainable. Nonetheless, we got as close as we possibly could to perfection and that was the video we ended up submitting. For instance, we did need to make a lot of changes such as subbing people in. However, they acclimated very well to all the changes we had to make despite it being super stressful.
Instinctively, I would want to restart anytime a mistake was made but I knew I had to let them finish the routine and then we would decide if they should try again. They put everything into their routine and are extremely out of breath by the end so we didn’t stop midway when they’d been putting in all that effort out there. So it was very stressful.
EE: How did it feel for you and your team to have won the state championship?
NG: Honestly, it was so nice and such a relief. It felt really good because I know that this group of athletes has been working so hard. Some have been working ever since August with participating in the fall season and then cheering for competition in the winter season.
But our goal the entire year was just to get a performance done because we didn’t know if there was even going to be a competition for us to compete at. Just being able to compete and submit such awesome videos made me super proud of them, and they were very happy with the results. It was really nice seeing the excitement on their faces as we were watching the results and they definitely earned it, that’s for sure.
EE: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to try out for cheerleading?
NG: First, they would need to fill out a google form and join the Google Classroom. Besides that, I tell anyone looking to try out that they should stretch everyday and to be very confident in what they are doing. If they’re doing their cheer or dance, it makes such a difference when someone is performing as opposed to someone who is just trying to get by. Just putting that showmanship out there makes you look a hundred times better, with a big smile too of course.
Ultimately, the Edison High cheerleaders persevered in the face of pandemic-related challenges. With sheer determination, these cheerleaders were more than willing to put in the long hours and adapt to the evolving circumstances of virtual competitions. Without a doubt, this cheer team is a well-oiled machine and their sense of community allowed them to have made Edison High history and the rest of us here in Edison incredibly proud.