Perennial South Shore cheerleading powerhouse Seaford High School won the Division II Large Varsity title at a meet at Freeport High School last Saturday, beating out a handful of other teams in the category, including Bethpage, which finished second.
Seaford competes at the Large Varsity level because of its ability to assemble a team of 23 cheerleaders despite its status as a smaller, Division II school. There is nothing remotely second-rate about its talented athletes.
“Every year I’ve been coaching, they get better,” said head coach Lisa Ferrari. “Every year we set the routine, and we tweak the stunts based on what they can do.”
This year, the varsity team is performing nearly all “super elite” stunts, the most difficult — and highest-scoring — maneuvers in high school cheerleading. Ferrari said she created the squad’s routine to maximize the scoring potential of her girls, in whom she has ultimate confidence.
The routine they used to win at Freeport High has been tweaked to be slightly different from past meets, but the general idea is the same: Collect as many points as possible with a group that works extremely hard year-round to be successful, following in the footsteps of the many winning Seaford teams before them.
“These girls work so extremely hard, and I am incredibly proud of them,” Ferrari said. “There really is no offseason for them. There’s football season, where they’re performing, then there’s competition season in the winter, and then we have [postseason] workouts. These girls are in the gym, they’re in the tumbling gyms; it’s really the season that never shuts down.”
Ferrari repeatedly noted that each year, the team is under pressure to continue the program’s winning ways. “I have expectations of where they should be, but they have their own expectations of themselves as well,” she said. “They want to be better than the year before. Even though a lot of them were a part of the team last year and come back, they want to be better.”
Among the returners this year are seniors Jordan Gilbert, Maggie Brolly and Julia Galante. Gilbert, a flyer, has been a part of the program since seventh grade, and has been a captain since her sophomore season. Ferrari lauded her ability and leadership — and mentioned that her younger sister, Megan, is a fantastic flyer in her own right.
Brolly occupies one of the “back spot” positions — the squad members responsible for calling the stunting count before a maneuver begins. “She’s one of the best back spots I have,” Ferrari said.
Galante is a first-year captain and Ferrari complimented her contagious “spirit and energy.”
Ferrari will lose only these three seniors when the season ends, but she is no stranger to having to rebuild. Last year nine seniors graduated, and in 2018 she lost 15, but the program’s success has continued.
Seaford has two more competitive events before leaving for Orlando, Fla., early next month for the Universal Cheerleaders Association National High School Cheerleading Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. The Lady Vikings have qualified for the national tournament for the past eight years in a row, and finished as high as fifth in their division.
Asked if the squad could place higher this year, Ferrari said, “I would like to think it’s possible. I would say this year, I’m just a little more confident.”
“We do scouting on other teams, and we watch film, like football or any other sport,” she said. “We’ll be working on tweaking our pyramid a bit.”
Seaford has also won county titles, and made it to the state championship meet three years in a row, and though the team has never won a state title, it is undefeated in state qualifying meets over that span. The pressure will be on the current squad to keep those streaks alive.