Thursday, November 28, 2013

Stafford Township’s youngest competitive cheerleaders earn first ticket to nationals

For the first time ever, the Southern Rams Mighty Mite cheer team, the youngest division of the American Youth Cheer competition teams, has earned a ticket to the 2013 AYC National Championships set for Dec. 15 in Orlando, Fla. The team consists of 16 girls ages 6 through 9 who attend Stafford schools.
“Since this is only the second time a team from the AYC Rams has made it to the national competition, this is a big deal to our organization. We couldn’t be more excited,” said Jennifer Terefeno, Mighty Mite head coach and a former Southern Regional cheerleader.
Photo via Southern Rams Mighty Mites
The Southern Rams Mighty Mite cheer team places
third at the AYC Big East Regional Competition.
The team’s first competition was held in October at the New Jersey AYC Jersey Shore Conference. The girls placed third out of four teams, allowing them to advance to the AYC Big East Regional Competition in November.
“We got right back to work (practicing),” said Terefenko.
The girls placed third out of six teams at regionals, advancing them to the national competition, where they will compete against nine other regions.
“Our girls were completely ecstatic when they announced our placing at the regional competition. They could not believe that we made it to Nationals,” said Terefenko. “Overall with the age range of the cheerleaders, we have been very lucky with their dedication and ability to come together as a team to perform.”
The girls started practicing as a new cheering squad in the beginning of August, dedicating themselves to learning all-new cheers, formations and stunts. The girls began choreographing their competitive routine in the beginning of September with the help of Mighty Mite coaches Terefenko, Janel Easterling and Rebecca Scott, as well as members of the junior varsity team, which also recently earned a ticket to Nationals in February.
The girls practice three times a week, while also cheering for the local Mighty Mite Football team on Sundays.
“The girls are very motivated and want to make sure their routine is clean and that they maximize their difficulty,” said Terefenko. “I am so proud of them. They go to school, come home, do homework, and then they are off to practice.”
During the warmer weather, Terefenko said the district allowed the team to practice its routines outside on the American Youth Football fields in Stafford. When the weather became colder, the district opened up its doors at the McKinley Avenue Elementary School, Southern Regional High School and Middle School, as well as at the Ocean Acres Community Center.
Despite injuries and several routine changes, Terefenko said she is amazed at how far the team has come.
“As the coach of this amazing team, I am very lucky to have such a wonderful group of young girls,” she said. “I am amazed how my 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds could learn a new routine so quick. Most of these girls come to practice tired due to their long day, but they fight through it and practice, practice, practice.”
The team will hold a number of fundraisers throughout the community to help raise the funds needed to attend the national competition. The girls will be canning in front of Five Below in Manahawkin on Friday, Nov. 29, through Sunday, Dec. 1. Ten percent of each purchase will be donated to the team when customers mention the Southern Rams during those days. The girls will also accept donations outside Marchioni’s Pizzeria in Barnegat on Friday, Dec. 6.
A fundraising event will be held on Sunday, Dec. 1, at Calloways Restaurant in Staffordville between 1 and 4 p.m. Tickets cost $25 for adults and $12 for children younger than 16. Beer, wine, pizza, wings and live music are included. Gift baskets will be raffled off throughout the event. For advance tickets, call Michele Torres at 609-713-9058. Tickets will also be available at the door.
— Kelley Anne Essinger

This article was published in The SandPaper.

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