Greenwich High cheerleaders eye FCIAC gold

Members of the Greenwich High School cheerleading team work on their routine during Monday's practice. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Members of the Greenwich High School cheerleading team work on their routine during Monday’s practice. — Paul Silverfarb photo

Despite being short on veteran experience, the Greenwich High School cheerleading team is loaded with talent, but also loaded on injuries heading into the competition portion of its season.

While Big Red has a plethora of skill on the mat, the team is also dealing with a handful of injuries. GHS senior captain, Taylor Ingraham, has knee injury and while she can do stunting, she’s still unable to tumble. Greenwich is also currently dealing with two concussions, quite a bit of thumb injuries and other bone injuries. Another athlete needed emergency surgery on something not even associated with cheerleading.

“We have a lot of new girls that are on the team and only a handful of veterans, but they are all doing really well,” Greenwich High School head coach MaryAnne Catalano, entering her 13th season at the helm. “They are very talented. We have some injuries that we are dealing with, so I am not sure how we are going to be moving into FCIACs. I think we will be a much stronger team at states when our injuries heal up, but we are doing the best we can.”

During last year’s FCIAC championship meet, Big Red finished third overall with 145.3 points. Winning FCIAC gold for the second consecutive season was Fairfield Ludlowe High School with 156.1 points, however Big Red was inches away from the silver, as St. Joseph High School took second with 145.6 points.

In addition to the team’s third place performance, Catalano was named FCIAC Coach of the Year for the first time in her tenure with the Lady Cardinals.

Senior captains Ashley Grudzinski, Amanda Rosabella and Taylor Ingraham will lead big Red. The three captains actually are the team’s lone seniors, which is a far cry away from the 11 that were seniors on the squad last year.

Ingraham is an all-around solid cheerleader for Big Red, as she can jump, tumble and is the strongest member of the team.

“This team has come such a long way since the beginning,” Ingraham said. “When we chose the team, we knew we were going to be one of the best teams that we’ve ever had. We all have tumbling. However injuries have really hurt us recently and we had to bail out of a competition last weekend because we aren’t ready, but the past three weeks have been amazing and we have come such a far way. We all want it more.”

Rosabella is the team’s silent leader. Although she doesn’t’ say much, she’s quite strong overall and leads by example. Although she’s one of the shortest members on the team, Catalano said that her stunt group always hits because of how hard she works.

“It’s an exciting time,” Rosabella said. “The team has come such a long way and we’ve had some injuries, but we are starting to get everything going. We are all so excited and are feeling the energy. I think we are going to do well.

Grudzinski is the third captain and Catalano is thrilled with how much she’s improved in the past 60 days. Not only is Ashley a solid leader, but Catalano added that she leads by example.

“It feels really good to be a leader on the team,” Grudzinski said. “The beginning of the season we had a lot of injuries and that was disappointing because we want to win. The three seniors really want to win. We need to buckle down and do the best we can for the two minutes and 30 seconds. I think we can definitely be in the top three, but we want to be first.”

“There are the only three seniors on the team, but they are doing really well,” Catalano said. “They control the team and their expectations are quite high. They want to win and compete at a high level. They make sure the girls are doing what they are supposed to do.”

While Catalano is thrilled that her squad is young, highly skilled, and will be gaining key varsity experience, the GHS head coach is still nervous about the unknown of having athletes with little varsity experience hit the mat for the first time.

“Some of them have actually never cheered before,” Catalano said. “They’ve been on gymnastic teams before, but they need the whole package. Some of them have come from All-Stars and it’s something that is totally different than what they do here at GHS. Others have only cheered for the GYCL and coming up to the varsity program is a big shock. If I could past what they know at tryouts, I give them a chance. They are all doing really well right now, so I can’t complain.”

This year’s routine will be quite different than in the past, as there won’t be a theme to Greenwich’s performance.

“It’s amazing this year,” Ingraham said. “Last year was a Grease theme and it was slow. It was good, but this year is so much fun. We know the music, so we can sing to it. The dancing is different and we all have a lot of fun. The stunts are difficult, but I think we can do it.”

Last year, Big Red went to FCIACs with a Grease theme to its routine. A Michael Jackson tribute theme was popular with the team two years ago. However, this year Greenwich will go into competition theme-less, which is perfectly fine with Catalano and the rest of the Lady Cards.

“We are doing a mixture of songs that I have watched the girls really enjoy over the past few years,” Catalano said. “We don’t have a theme this year and I think that’s better because last year it got really monotonous hearing it time after time again. With the injuries, we really haven’t been able to run this year’s routine through. However, they are excited because they love the dance and love the music.”

“It’s a different routine, but it’s also exciting,” Rosabella said. “We all really enjoy it and put so much energy into the routine. The strength is the tumbling because this is the first year everybody has tumbling. Our stunts have also grown.”

Throughout the 2:30 routine, Catalano believes that the team’s stunting is the team’s strength.

“We have really strong girls and we have a lot of one-man stunts going on, something we haven’t had before,” Catalano said. “I am really excited about that. Almost everybody tumbles this year and in our routine we really hit every aspect of what the judges are looking for. I’m excited.”

While the Lady Cardinals are looking good heading into the FCIAC championship meet, Catalano knows that there is still plenty of work to get done.

“I would like to see their confidence improve and that they continue to feel like they could hit the mark,” Catalano said. “We aren’t consistent enough for me. I would like them to have that confidence to know that every time they hit the mat, they could be successful and complete the routine. We are working on that right now.”

Despite the challenges, Catalano and the rest of the Cardinals are looking to claim the FCIAC championship this season, which would be a first for the GHS head coach.

“I would love to finally win FCIACs, but our goal as a team is to be able to work well together and do what we need to on the mat,” Catalano said. “We have a great routine and if we can hold on to the top three, that would be great. This could be our year, but you never know. If not, we will improve and get stronger for States.

By participating in the comments section of this site you are agreeing to our Privacy Policy and User Agreement

© Hersam Acorn. All rights reserved. The Greenwich Post, 10 Corbin Drive, Floor 3, Darien, CT 06820

Designed by WPSHOWER

Powered by WordPress