(Editor's Note: Katelyn Borsos is a senor at South Plainfield High School and an intern with TAPinto South Plainfield.) 

SOUTH PLAINFIELD, NJ - Erin Piazza, a longtime resident of the borough and graphic arts teacher at South Plainfield High School (SPHS), is weeks into her first year as head coach of the school’s competition cheerleading team.

Piazza is a 2003 graduate of SPHS and, throughout her high school career, was involved with competitive cheerleading as well as all areas of dance, including tap and ballet. From there, she went on to receive a bachelor’s of fine arts with a concentration in graphic design from Salisbury University in Maryland.

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Piazza said living up to the expectations she sets for herself is challenging at times but she finds that allowing students to have fun and be creative is a very rewarding part of the job. She credits former graphic arts teacher Richard D’Urso for introducing her to graphic design.

“[He] always encouraged me to be creative,” Piazza said.

The SPHS Competition Cheerleading Team had a successful season in 2015-2016, bringing home the title as Group 3 State Champions and placing third at Nationals. So far this year, Piazza, who works alongside fellow first year assistant coach and SPHS guidance counselor Jaime Giannakis, the girls have placed in six competitions, including the New Jersey Cheerleading & Dance Coaches Association’s (NJCDCA) Feb. 4 tournament at David Brearley High School where they took home first place.

At the Reach the Beach Nationals held in Ocean City, MD this past weekend, the team placed fifth. The next stop is the NJCDCA State Championships on Sunday, March 5 at Sun National Bank in Trenton.  

“The team had a rocky start to the season, but the girls pulled it together,” said Piazza, adding that she finds it very rewarding to watch the team showcase their hard work at various competitions. “The road to success may be challenging, but the harder the struggle, the sweeter the victory.”

 Piazza's advice to students aspiring to be educators or those looking to continue cheerleading in college, is ‘Don’t hesitate [because] some opportunities only come by once in your lifetime.’

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