The Putnam Examiner

A New Era For Mahopac Cheerleading

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080418_cheerleader_genericBy Hannah Peikes

One year can make a huge difference in a team and this is proven in the 2013 Mahopac Varsity Cheerleaders. The girls went from getting sixth place and seventh place to first and second in one of the hardest divisions in the Westchester/Putnam area. How did they do this? Practice, dedication and teamwork.

As tryouts came closer and closer last spring the cheerleaders started to worry. They were without a varsity coach. Coach Carol Murphy had been coaching Mahopac Varsity Cheerleading since as long as the girls could remember. Who could replace Carol after she retired? In walked Kristi Wagner. Kristi has been cheering since she was five years old. She was on a prestigious all-star team as well as her college’s team. She had previously assistant coached Mahopac with Coach Carol and most recently coached at Briarcliff High School. Kristi commenced try outs with a goal, to find the best of the best and to make them even better.

Out of three days of tryouts came the Mahopac Varsity Cheerleaders. This group of girls was excited to work with Kristi and to get to the top. Practice started in July with once a week workout and training sessions. Unlike previous years, almost all of the team would show up working on skills in order for the start of the season to be amazing. And in fact it was. Starting the season off with a two-day camp the girls worked hard to learn new and impressive skills. As they switched from UCA to NCA, two different cheerleading programs, they realized that in order to reach the top they had to work hard. This hard work has led to the success of the team.

The biggest difference in this team compared to past years is the bond the girls have with one another. This sense of family is the true reason why the team is unstoppable. As a Mahopac Varsity Cheerleader I can honestly say that each of us truly cares about the rest of the team. Although we come from different friend groups, we have become sisters. In addition, instead of fighting with our coach we are friends with her. Kristi is a role model and a friend to all of us. The trust between the flyers and the people under her is very important. This bond between the cheerleaders allows them to try harder stunts and to create an impressive routine.

Another change for the Mahopac Varsity Cheerleaders is the newfound respect they have gotten from the football players and the school. Cheerleaders have been seen as a nuisance and unnecessary, but this year there has been a change. The football players and the cheerleaders support each other. The girls bake for the boys to pump them up for the big game. This has been a tradition at Mahopac. A new tradition is the boys baking for the girls once in a while. In addition, the football players have come to cheerleading competitions to cheer on the girls. Also, the Mahopac Maniacs have supported the girls, calling back in the cheers and clapping for the performances.

The Mahopac Varsity Cheerleaders decided this year that to give back to the community is an important part of their role as cheerleaders. Most recently the girls supported Justin Sacco in his recovery by performing a cheer for him as well as painting his number on their bows. The girls also walked in the Columbus Day Parade.

Most people only see the cheerleaders at games, but if you really want to see us in our prime come attend one of our competitions. In our last two competitions we have placed first and second. These winnings may be traced back to our hard work, close bond or our guardian angel, Kristi’s brother, Justin Wagner. Kristi prays to Justin, whose image is on the football video board, before each competition. Whatever it is that leads to their success, the girls are on the path for victory.

Hannah Peikes is a cheerleader and senior at Mahopac High School.

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