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Saturday, May 28, 2016
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Cheerleaders rejoice as their skill becomes an interscholastic sport
By Michael Ganci
Seaford School District
Seaford cheerleaders practice before a home game.

Cheerleaders around New York state are celebrating the New York Board of Regents’ decision to make cheerleading an interscholastic sport, effective next winter.

New York joins 34 other states that recognize cheerleading as a competitive sport.

“I’m grateful that New York is recognizing cheerleading as a sport,” said Catie Fontano, a four-year starter on the MacArthur High School squad and its captain for the past two years. “Cheerleading has always been my passion. We work just as hard as other athletes, and it’s good to finally be seen on the same level as other sports.”

Other members of the MacArthur cheerleading team said they couldn’t agree with Fontano more. “I’ve dedicated my entire athletic career to cheerleading, so I’m serious when I say that cheerleading is my life,” said Devin Tirado, a nationally ranked cheerleader for the past three years. “For cheerleading to become a sport now is awesome. It’s unlike anything else. Everything must be done as a team. If one thing goes wrong or one person is off, everything’s gone. It’s a hard sport, and people underestimate it. I feel now that it’s a sport people will take more seriously.”

MacArthur Coach Lisa Nessler said cheerleading has come a long way in New York — and specifically on Long Island — as many teams in the region have won national titles and placed in the top 10 in the country.

“The coaches have been sending emails to the state Board of Regents, and we’re waiting to hear back from them regarding this transition,” Nessler said. “We respectfully request that the New York state board genuinely considers involving experienced coaches and nationally educated cheerleading professionals in the process of sanctioning this sport.”

Keith Snyder, the director of phys. ed., health and athletics for the Levittown School District, said he has always considered cheerleading a sport, adding that the coaches are state-certified and have the same credentials as the football coaches.


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