Seven years ago, the Old Rochester Youth Football and Cheerleading program came to the Tri-Town. In its short existence, it has gained popularity among residents and has grown extensively. Now, the program is fighting for the chance to be recognized on a national level.
The Old Rochester Dance Team and Junior Pee Wee Cheer Squads will compete this Saturday, November 10 in Springfield, MA at the MassMutual Center for a chance to win a trip to Florida to compete in the National Championships. No team from ORYF has ever qualified for a trip to the National Championships.
“I would be really excited,” said Zoe Davis, a member of the Junior Pee Wee Squad. “This is my first year cheering, and if we went to Florida this year, that would be really cool.”
The Dance Team is comprised of 11 members who are all in Junior High School. The Junior Pee Wee team has nine members who range in age from 8 – 11.
“It’s really fun to cheerlead because you get to meet a lot of new people who may not go to your school,” said Junior Pee Wee Member April Choquette. “We work hard and I think we will make it to Florida.”
The road to this weekend’s Regional Final Competition has been a long one for the Bulldogs. They have competed in a series of local competitions, placing high enough to move on to the next stage of competition. Last weekend, they competed in the Regional Semifinals, also held at the MassMutual Center, and both teams placed second in their respective divisions.
“I think we did a really good job with our stunts,” said Davis. “None of them fell and we did a really good job. We were really loud with our cheers.”
The Junior Pee Wee Squad placed second in a field of seven teams from Chicopee, Amherst, Mission Hill, Waltham, Oakmont and Middletown, RI. There were only two entries in the Dance Team’s division.
“They’ve worked really hard for where they’ve gotten,” said Junior Pee Wee Head Coach Theresa Choquette. “The majority of the team is new to this type of competition, so I’m very impressed and proud with that they’ve done.”
But the hard work doesn’t stop there. The teams have one week to perfect their routines in order to place in the top two of their divisions this weekend. The teams practice three days a week for two hours at a time.
Both teams’ routines are precisely choreographed to a mix of popular music. Quick dance moves, difficult stunts and acrobatics are incorporated into the repertoires as well.
“We work together and we get along really well,” said April Choquette. “If we can’t do something, we keep trying and trying until we get it right.”
Only time will tell if the teams’ hard work will pay off and earn them a trip to Florida. However, no matter the outcome of the competition, the girls know the experience is well worth it.
“The best part of cheering is being with my friends and getting to do something new,” said Davis. “Everyone should cheer, it’s amazing.”
By Katy Fitzpatrick