The Island Trees High School cheerleading squad is gearing up for the national title battle for the first time in almost a decade.
Head coach Courtney Waller is thrilled to lead the Bulldogs into the 2020 National High School Cheerleading Championship (NHSCC) at Walt Disney World in Orlando, FL. The Bulldogs sealed their spot in the NHSCC thanks to a pair of runner-up finishes in the UCA Empire Regional in early December. They’ll battle it out in the game day co-ed division, as well as the co-ed varsity division.
“We are looking forward to the rest of our season and our first Disney Nationals experience for Island Trees in nearly 10 years,” Waller said. “Between Saturday and Sunday alone, we increased our traditional routine scores by nearly 20 points. We hope to continue on this path of growing together, continually developing the tremendous potential we see among members and improving each weekend.”
The Bulldogs won the co-ed division a year ago during the Nassau County title battle, marking the first county championship for the group.
Senior captains Gina Tedesco, Lauren McDonough and Summer Echezuria led the Bulldogs throughout the regional battle, motivating their young, new team through such a demanding first competition weekend.
The 19-person roster is largely underclassmen, with the UCA Empire Regional serving as the first competition for 11 of the cheerleaders.
Several of the varsity cheerleaders actually participate in multiple sports, such as junior Jenn Catalano, who filled in against Oceanside High School after another cheerleader couldn’t compete. She plays soccer and learned all of the routines within weeks after joining the team.
The NHSCC takes place from Feb. 7 to 10, with many of the battles being shown on ESPN2 and ESPNU. The NHSCC is considered to be the most prestigious cheerleading championship in the country. The competition itself will be at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex, which is inside of Disney World.