BERNARDS TWP., NJ _ After the achievement of winning a national championship earlier this month, the middle school-aged Ridge Youth Sports Senior Rec Division cheerleaders were recognized by the Bernards Township Committee at their Tuesday night meeting. 

Seventeen cheerleaders in grades 6 to 8, along with six Ridge High School cheerleaders who are helping to coach the younger girls, posed for a photo at the meeting with their head coach, Kim Grimaldi.

Ridge Youth Sports, Inc.’s (RYSI) Senior Rec cheerleaders won first place at the National Championship in the “Game Day” Cheer Division, at the ESPN Wide World of Sports in Orlando, Florida on Feb. 7.

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"It's a big deal in the world of cheerleading," Coach Grimaldi said following the Township Committee's presentation of the resolution to the cheerleading team and their coaches. 

She added it is the team's first national championship.

The resolution approved by the Township Committee recognizes and congratulates the cheerleaders and their coaches on "their impressive accomplishments and their extraordinary commitment to teamwork, perseverance, and sportsmanship."

Grimaldi, a founding board member of RYSI and director of the Competition Cheer Program started in 2005, and has coached the Senior Rec cheerleaders for eight years, the resolution noted. 

Coach Lydia Kerrick has coached the Senior Rec Division since 2018 ,and Coach Sara Zuccalmaglio, a previous Ridge High School cheerleader and student coach while at Ridge HS, is in her second year coaching the Senior Rec Division. Ridge High School cheerleaders Abby Szikman, Jillian Ring, Sophia Giordano, Brianna Vick, Samantha Vassallo and Lauren Kennedy volunteer their time with the RYSI program, serving as student coaches for the Senior Rec Division team, the resolution added.

Although this is their first national award, the RYSI Competition Cheer team has earned a bid to the national competition for the past seven years, earning various awards before winning first place in the 2020 national championship.

Team overcame various obstacles

The 17 girls on the RYSI Senior Rec team practice and compete from August through February, the resolution said. "The team had to overcome various obstacles including injuries and illnesses preceding the championship, and exhibited tremendous teamwork, flexibility, and ingenuity under the coaches’ leadership to get to nationals," the resolution said.

The team competed against nine other talented teams from New Jersey and other states, and on championship day "delivered a flawless performance and exhibited the most energy and spirit," the resolution said.

Additional awards won by team

The team also won third place in the World School Competition by competing against international teams and other USA teams. In addition, the cheerleading team also placed fourth in the nation for their Senior Rec "traditional routine" performance at the 2020 Nationals Championship.