SOUTH PLAINFIELD, N.J. -- Danielle McParland, a South Plainfield High School senior, will continue her athletic and academic career at The College of New Jersey (TCNJ).

McParland recently announced that she will attend the Ewing-based university to cheer and major in math education.

“TCNJ has been my top school for years and when I went to an open house for the first time I fell in love with it. It has a very good education program which is what I want to study,” McParland said. “The school is smaller than others which is what I was looking for. The campus is beautiful and it seemed like the perfect community for me to live in for the years to come. Even when I was not sure about doing cheer in college, the program caught my attention.”

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McParland has enjoyed success in the cheer department as she was a four-year varsity member of the competition cheer team. A two-time state champion at the main base position, she was a captain in 2019-20.

Her love of cheer goes back to a young age.

“I started cheerleading in second grade when I did Pop Warner. Most of my friends were a part of it so I wanted to try it. I loved it as a little girl and always looked at the older girls in high school cheer wishing I could be them some day. I never knew it would come so fast but my whole cheer experience throughout the years has been one of the best things in my life,” McParland said. “What I enjoyed the most about cheer was always performing. Being able to show off the routine in front of a crowd with my team gave me the best feeling in the world. Everything we work for gets acknowledged when we step on the mat to compete and we all get to show our family and friends what the sport really means to us.”

McParland thrived at and took pride in being a main base in the stunt group.

“The job of a main base is to lift the flyer up by holding their foot. It is important to have strong legs when being a base because they are used to push the flyer up,” she said. “If the flyer is falling down, it is the base's job to prevent them in any way possible from hitting the ground, which could include throwing yourself on the ground to break their fall. You definitely have to be both strong and mindful to be a successful main base.”

Earlier this year, McParland earned a spot on the New Jersey Cheerleading and Dance Coaches Association All-State Team. She was one of over 50 cheerleaders to send in a tryout video which showcased cheering, dance, jumps, and tumbles in addition to providing a biography.

“This is an achievement that I was so excited to receive and will carry through the rest of my cheerleading career,” McParland said.

South Plainfield’s competitive cheerleading squad went undefeated in 2019 and won two first place titles at states. They repeated and won the two titles again in 2020 despite some adversity.

“The 2018-2019 cheerleading season had a late start, so most of us were fearful of the season to come. We had new coaches and new rules starting that year. The whole team worked extremely hard during practice and we reached our goal of an undefeated season, including two first place titles at states in 2019,” McParland said. “We competed in the Medium Varsity Cheer Dance Division and the Group 2 Division, competing against multiple different teams in each. We were hoping to win one title, but were shocked and excited to hear that we won both.

“The following 2019-2020 season, we were more prepared than ever and were able to again achieve our goal of an undefeated season. We also won the same two state titles again even with many injuries and complications during the season. The competition program at SPHS was something I will always be proud to have been a part of. There is so much drive, motivation, and bond within the team that I will never forget.”

In addition to her cheer endeavours, McParland will attack the classroom in the education department - specifically as a Secondary Math Education Major. Like cheerleading, she knew she wanted to be a teacher since she was a kid.

“The thought of being a teacher has been there for me since I was young,” McParland said. “In high school, math started to click for me and came easy for me compared to other subjects. I helped my friends when they were struggling with it which inspired me to take the path of becoming a math teacher. TCNJ has a very strong education program and will guide me to the profession in the best way possible.”

Follow Chris Nalwasky on Twitter @ChrisWasky.