The Keene State College cheerleading team had the opportunity to learn from one of The Cheer Leader Magazine’s expert instructors on Sunday, Oct 12.
Head Coach Chris Fecteau, who also coaches at the local competition gym Northern Lights in Keene, N.H., met with The Cheerleader Magazine this past summer when they came to do a camp with the Northern Lights team.
Fecteau said he was interested in bringing them back to the KSC team, but wasn’t sure if it would happen because of scheduling and money.
However, when he learned that The Cheer Leader Magazine traveling coach, choreographer and stunt skills instructor O’Shea Parker would be coming back to the Northern Lights Gym in October, he made a phone call right then and there.
“When I called they responded almost the next day. However, there was a lot of paperwork and hoops to jump through. There were waivers, we had to set up a P-O, which meant we had to get a W-9 form. It was long back-and-forth process,” Fecteau said.
This back-and-forth process lasted up until the night before they were scheduled to do the workshop.
“At least these hoops are set up now so they can jump through them easier next time if they come back again,” Fecteau said.
Fecteau also said he hopes to bring in someone extra each month to help the team develop a safe and clean routine.
With Parker’s help the team learned advanced stunts that no Keene State College cheerleading team has done before.
Although not all members of the competition team were present during the workshop due to either sickness, injury or previously asking for the day off, Fecteau said the day met his expectations.
The team focused mainly on stunting, basket tosses and pyramids but also got a little help on improving their cheer.
Fecteau said for stunts the girls did full-ups, straight twist downs, round off’s up into a stunt, back tuck basket tosses, back tuck into an X-out basket toss, front fulls and even a three tiered shoulder sit-stand.
Flyers [the girls on top of the stunt] Bianca Tauro and Alyssa Flattery, did their first back tuck basket toss during the practice.
A back tuck basket toss is when the flyer is thrown freely up into the air and does a backflip [shown in picture above].
Tauro said it was one of the “most scariest things I’ve ever done.” However, she said she was really proud of herself for doing it.
For back-spot Rebecca Marquis, a junior on the team, the hardest part of the four hour long workshop was learning new pyramids.
“This is all new stuff. We’ve never done anything like this before. It was difficult learning where we should be and what we need to do but I know we’ll improve,” Marquis said.
Although the stunts were challenging, the girls had a lot of fun and it also gave them another chance to bond as a team.
“It was great for us to all do something together, it was really exciting and fun and something I didn’t really expect,” Catarina Prata, a sophomore on the team, said.
Even Parker thought the team did very well.
“I think they worked very hard and learned lots of new skills and worked really well together. The expectations I had for baskets they hit it … Every team has something they can work on and I think they can work on pyramids and really improve from there,” Parker said.
For pyramids, the KSC team plans to attempt a two, two, three. Which is a stunt two-and-half girls high with one leg in the middle and another girl on top of that.
“For fifteen girls to pull that off that will be very impressive,” Fecteau said.
Fecteau also said that he believes this experience was an eye-opening one.
“I think the girls are finally starting to see the culture I’m trying to set up here: hard working and able to make changes quickly,” Fecteau said.
With Nationals only months away the cheer team is constantly learning new techniques to present a safe, clean and collegiate routine.
Kendall Pope can be contacted at email@example.com