By Christie L. Chicoine
CS&T Staff Writer
RADNOR – The cheerleaders at Archbishop John Carroll High School in Radnor could shout it from the rooftop: they are champions.
The Patriots recently secured a national varsity cheerleading title and grand champion titles in varsity and junior varsity spanisions of the Philadelphia Catholic League Cheerleading Competition.
Tateana Turner, a junior, said the team received its just reward. “We practiced so hard. It was through God and through us working as a team that we made it.”
To Turner, the rush that accompanies a routine that spans two minutes, 30 seconds, is remarkable. “People think that is not a lot of time, but we practice two hours every day” for that performance, she said.
And on competition day, those two-and-a-half minutes “feel longer than any basketball game, any football game, any game,” she said.
The squad’s captains are seniors Alyson Baerhle, Jaclyn George and Gianna DelGrippo.
Baerhle belongs to St. Teresa of Avila Parish in Norristown, Montgomery County, George is from St. Pius X Parish in Broomall, Delaware County, and DelGrippo is a member of Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish in the Andorra section of Philadelphia.
DelGrippo said she was humbled by the squad’s achievements. “It still brings chills to the whole team every time we think about going out on the floor to perform.”
Carroll’s varsity cheerleading squad won first place in the school cheer, private school spanision in the Contest of Champions, an independent national competition held Feb. 27 in Orlando, Fla.
On March 14, the same 32 cheerleaders received the grand champion title in the all-around varsity super large spanision of the Philadelphia Catholic League cheerleading competition, which Carroll hosted.
The super large spanision refers to the number of cheerleaders that may compete on a team in that category, which is 28 to 36 cheerleaders.
Although, as its name implies, the national competition consisted of competitors from across the country, the Philadelphia Catholic League title is more meaningful to DelGrippo, she said, because of its connection to her close-knit community she knows well.
DelGrippo was a cheerleader for IHM’s School and Catholic Youth Organization. She’s cheered on Carroll’s varsity cheerleading squad since freshman year and hopes to continue her cheering at Villanova University.
Grace Donovan, a sophomore from St. Teresa of Avila Parish, said she delights in performing back handsprings for the team. “I love the feeling of going on the floor and giving it your all, then going off and feeling good about it.”
Sylvia Kershaw, a member of IHM Parish, is Carroll High’s head cheer coach and varsity coach. Jessica Murphy, a member of Holy Family Parish in the Manayunk section of the Philadelphia, is the assistant coach.
“They work really hard all year,” Kershaw said. “I’m just really proud of them as a coach. It’s very easy for me to instruct them and to give them the proper tools, but it takes them as a team, together, to execute it and to have a flawless routine.”
The coach commended the cheerleaders for their behavior both on and off the competition mat. “Before they go on the floor, they huddle in a circle. There’s a chant they do, but before that chant, there’s prayer.”
In addition to demonstrating the necessary skills and abilities, the cheerleaders must also maintain good grades and participate in community service projects.
“They love cheer and we work around things – family and school are first,” said the coach.
For DelGrippo, “Catholic school teaches good morals and values, as in respect, responsibility and just overall good sportsmanship. Cheerleading definitely defines that.”
Also on March 14, Carroll’s 22 junior varsity cheerleaders received the grand champion title in the all-around junior varsity large spanision of the Philadelphia Catholic League cheer competition.
Bishop Shanahan High School in Downingtown, which was named grand champion in the extra large varsity all around spanision at the Philadelphia Catholic League competition, placed 10th in the UCA National High School Cheerleading Competition, Super Varsity spanision II, held last month in Orlando; Father Judge High School placed third in the same national competition. Archbishop Ryan High School placed 17th in Super Varsity spanision 1 of the UCA national competition and was runner-up in the medium-varsity spanision at the competition at Carroll.
CS&T Staff Writer Christie L. Chicoine may be reached at 215-587-2468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.