The Saga of Wantagh Cheerleading – Hoping for a 4th Straight County Title and a First National Title

Kayla Doyle and Juliana Cupelli, Reporters

The argument about whether cheerleading is a sport is long over. It’s more like a full-time job.

 Not only do we cheer for 8 months while other sports last 3 months at most, but as a team Wantagh varsity cheerleading has overcome adversity between last season and now. For a cheerleading team, mid-September is when you put together a nationals routine.  Much of the current team was hitting stunts that were high on the super-elite scale, last September, and we had a set team that was“The Dream Team.”

We were on a roll, anything Coach Schneyer threw at us we delivered with pristine execution. Everyone believed that the 2017-18 team would be the team to take home every title: Regionals Championship, our third straight Nassau County Championship, a State Championship, a National Championship, and a World Championship. We absolutely had the ability to do it, that is until we got hit with probably the worst news any team could get hit with. Two of our main flyers, both seniors, had decided to leave our team in the same week.

Practicing with only one full stunt group was  difficult. Everyone was swapping positions, we were just trying to find anything that would work. Former side base, Chloe Janosko, was basing and hitting her stunts for 2 full months when she was asked to go into the air.

“I was scared to be honest. I was nervous because eventually I knew we would start spinning our stunts and I knew I struggled with that,” said Janosko.  “I would have never thought I would be as comfortable as I am now in the air.”

In searching for that final flyer we found Meghan Reilly.

“I was really surprised when I got the call because I figured I was done with cheer when I decided to not tryout that year,” Reilly said. “After a long, hard decision making process with my parents and past coaches I decided to come to practice and give it a try. After the first practice I was filled with all the good memories of cheer and I couldn’t have been happier to be back.”

Finally  we came together as a team,  hitting 10 out of 10 routines. We were unstoppable on Long Island. We even went undefeated in Nassau County, resulting in the Nassau County Championship three peat.

In May when our open gyms started up again, Coach Schneyer came in with all the ideas for new stunts and tumbling passes you could think of. From May through August he got us ready for our tryouts. He planned out stunts and music for us to put into our routine. We were basically practicing in the beginning of August without labeling it a practice.

One week before tryouts,. Coach Schneyer resigned. Nobody knew what to do. He was a huge part of our lives. “It was a big shock to everyone, especially it was 3 days before tryouts.” assistant coach Alexandra Grange said. “There was a major lack of communication which made it very difficult.”  

We spent every single day with each other for over 8 months. He became our family. A new coach was found in almost no time and we had just one open gym to get to know her and practice with her before we were expected to tryout.

The first few weeks with our new coach, Jaclyn Bonlarron, were rough. The transition with our new coach Jaclyn Bonlarron was rocky for everyone, lots of tension. But we all knew we were in great hands with Coach Bonlarron.

“She is extremely knowledgeable and talented in cheerleading,” Grange says. “Her experience from cheering at Hauppauge, and at Hofstra make me feel very confident in her ability to develop our teams skills, create a outstanding routine and lead us to a successful season.”

The new team is excited for this 2018-19 season. We all want to claim the titles we rightfully deserve. “I am very excited because of all the new talent and new skills the team is performing,” said Grange about the season. We are all working so hard. Some days are harder than others but once we all get on the same page things will start to move further into the right direction. “An ideal season would mean defending our 3-time Nassau County  title streak, hitting a routine at states and at nationals.”

“Every coach just wants their team to hit their routine and have no regrets when they walk off the mat,” says Grange about her expectations of nationals. “Whatever place we come in is up to the judges.”

We’re a hardworking team. Hitting 4 perfect routines last year and placing 11th is not where we want to be, we’ll be going back this year to take what was stolen from us last year.