Much went right in 2022-2023 for Cathedral High School cheerleading.
Camaraderie was high, and the Irish found good balance throughout the school year – and good success in competition and school spirit. That was the objective for the program.
That made ’22-’23 a strong season for Irish cheerleading, and a memorable one.
“We had a very successful year, overall,” said Irish Cheerleading Coach Jessica Stoner, in her second season leading the program. “It was great.”
The Irish not only had a strong regular season, they performed well in competitions – finishing second in their division at the Hoosier Regional Competition at Hamilton Southeastern in October, then advancing to the second round of the National High School Cheerleading Competition in February.
“There’s a bond that the girls have amongst the team as a whole,” Stoner said. “There's a lot of support coming from anyone who chooses not to be a part of the competition team, which is totally fine. And the girls on the competition team support the girls who weren’t able to do that portion of the season with them.
“There’s a balance where prior there might not have been. That’s definitely developing and becoming stronger, which was our vision – to bring that morale back, the spirit back, the inclusiveness of the team as a whole.”
Stoner said Irish Cheerleading in 2022-2023 was led by a five-member senior class that included four varsity members. They were:
*Sidney Sanders. A track athlete and four-year member of Cathedral Cheerleading.
*Gabby Blamey. A National Honor society student and four-year member of Cathedral Cheerleading.
*Grace Llewellyn. A National Honor society student and four-year member of Cathedral Cheerleading.
*Allie Kaplan. A softball athlete and a three-year member of Cathedral Cheerleading.
“They are all involved in multiple things at Cathedral other than cheerleading,” Stoner said. “They bring a lot to the table when it comes to the leadership and the morale on the team. They show up for practices and make it a point to be leaders and the girls follow in their footsteps when it comes to game-day experiences and knowing what needs to happen.
“They stepped up individually and as a whole tremendously this year from choreographing our homecoming routine, and starting in the summer with taking charge in our kids' camp. We did a lot of things this year a little different with that to make it a little more fun for those kids coming in for that camp at Cathedral. They did a lot with that.”
Blamey was the lone senior on the competition team this season.
“She really led the team as a whole and had a big impact,” Stoner said. “She gave the team a lot of positivity when it came to overcoming a lot of things this year with getting us where we needed to be on that aspect.”
Sharon Perez, a first-year senior and first-time cheerleader, was also a strong part of the program.
“She does a lot of other things extracurricular-wise at Cathedral,” Stoner said. “She learned a lot. It was awesome to see her come on. We enjoyed her so much on the team and she did a great job this year for us.”
Stoner said Cathedral Cheerleading in 2022-2023 was “one team,” and that that bond defined the season.
“There may be other things people get to do during the season when it comes to different competitions, even when it comes to cheering for football and basketball,” she said. “Varsity gets to cheer a lot of those extra games when it comes to sectionals, regionals, semi-state and state. But we also have girls who have gotten the opportunity these last couple years step up as freshmen and sophomores and be able to cheer some of those varsity games.
“It's been a great opportunity to see people just kind of come together as a whole.”
Stoner, too, said the future of the program remains “very strong,” with 50 students showing interest in 2022-2023.
“That's including incoming freshmen all the way through seniors, which was so exciting to see,” she said. “We have a large number in this incoming freshman class, and there is a lot of talent there. We hope the program just continues seeing that from the incoming freshmen and continues, obviously, seeing the upperclassmen return every year.”