WEST ORANGE, NJ - As the summer comes to a close, the West Orange High School cheerleaders have already begun practicing for another exciting and competitive year. The Mountaineer Cheerleading team is out to prove that the skill and athleticism required deserves the respect of the sports community.
Cheerleading involves work ethic, dedication, and drive. The girls practice at least five hours a week in the offseason and about 20 hours a week during the season. They also cheer at football games and other events in the fall; basketball in the winter, competitions, and other events. Next week, they will head to a four-day camp to sharpen their skills, learn new cheers and dances, and become closer as a cheer family.
The WOHS cheerleaders are excited to participate in this year’s Cheer for a Cure and the annual Super Essex Conference (SEC), returning as two-year division champions. Head coach Kimberly Topping, along with assistant coaches Kyla Rouse and Lauren Salvatoriello, are proud of how far these girls have come. They hope to compete more aggressively, create a family-like unity between all the cheerleaders, and gain more respect on all levels.
Topping is excited to have a Freshman team this year in addition to JV and Varsity. The cheerleaders receive a lot of support from the school and the community but are always challenged by the stigma of whether cheerleading is a real sport or not.
For senior year cheerleaders, this last year is very important to them, and describe their feelings to be “bittersweet.” Kailyn Scott, who has been cheerleading at the high school since freshman year says that “it is sad to leave the family” while Tara Murphy feels relieved to “finally move on.” Cheerleaders like Hunter Geltzeiler and Taylor Washington said that they would love to continue to cheerlead at the college level.
The coaches and girls are ready to show their skills and prove nonbelievers wrong. This should prove to be an exciting season for the Mountaineer Cheerleaders. The goal, as Coach Topping said, was to “Put West Orange cheerleading ON THE MAP!”
(Editor's Note: This is the first in TAP into West Orange's series of preseason fall sports articles written by the WOHS TAP Team. TAP into West Orange welcomes Jackie Joy, a senior, and newest member of the West Orange High School TAP Team.)