It was a momentous occasion in General Douglas MacArthur High School cheerleading history when the team was named Division I Large School champions at the New York State High School Cheerleading Championships in Rochester on March 5. The achievement is a first for the program and is a result of players' years of dedication to the sport.
As they waited for their name to be called, the tension was high, and teammates clutched each other's hands. Although they knew they put their best foot forward, becoming state champions was beyond their expectations. They placed first with 87.55 points and burst into cheer and tears of joy upon the announcement.
"We thought we were going to get fourth or fifth," said Kylie Zanelli, a team captain and senior.
"We didn't know what would happen. We were just going to do the routine the best we could," said team captain Olivia Weber.
"This was the last time we'd compete on this team with these people," said captain Emma Koehler. "We just wanted to hit our routine so we could look back and say, - We hit our last routine ever together.'"
The captains, including Tiffany Pereira and Julie Weltner, now all seniors, started on the team together as freshmen. That year, the Generals won the Nassau County championship, and later made it to regionals and are now state champions - all firsts. "Being a part of the first for everything is really cool," Kylie said.
"We're like a family," Emma said. "We spend every single second with each other."
The captains explained they are already passing the torch onto the younger teammates, but as alumni, they'll never stop being involved, as is tradition with the Generals.
"These seniors have worked hard for all of their titles," Coach Lisa Nessler said. "The girls who have come in recently, all they know is success - hopefully they keep that mentality."