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Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS
Photo by Ryan Kelley/QNS
A pair of cheerleaders from P.S. 71 embrace after their performance at the second annual Owl NYC Cheerleading Competition at Grover Cleveland High school on April 14.

In eight short years, cheerleading in Ridgewood schools has grown exponentially.

It all started with the Owls at P.S 71, where the students wore leggings and T-shirts when the first team was formed. Assistant Principal Allison Napoli said that the school launched a fundraising campaign to buy cheerleading uniforms, and soon the school had three separate teams.

In time, the cheerleaders moved on to middle school at I.S. 93, and a team was formed there. Naturally, when they reached Grover Cleveland High School, a cheerleading program began there as well. As Napoli puts it, “We built from the bottom up.”

The local popularity of cheerleading culminated in an impressive show of spirit on April 14 at Grover Cleveland for the second-annual Owl NYC Cheerleading Competition. With more than 30 teams from many parts of the city split into four sessions and several age divisions, the event was double the size of the debut event last year, Napoli said. One of the sessions even included all teams from District 24, which Napoli was especially proud of.

While the growth of the sport has been impressive, Napoli’s personal motivation has been one of the driving forces behind it.

“I keep joking around that one day we’re going to be in the Barclays Center and have to take over,” Napoli said. “Cheer on Long Island is much bigger and we’re trying to grow it here in the boroughs to give these kids the opportunity to participate. It’s now considered a sport, so they can get scholarships and they can cheer from high school to college. I actually did cheerleading on a scholarship, and that was the thing I felt kept me in school and kept me focused. That’s what I wanted to bring to them.”

The top three teams in each division were awarded with trophies, but the teams that didn’t make the podium were also given small trophies recognizing their participation.

In the senior elementary division, the Brooklyn Diamonds took home the first-place trophy while P.S. 71 Senior Cheer came in second and P.S. 153 came in third. The junior high non-mount division saw only two teams compete, with I.S. 217 coming in first place and P.S./I.S. 214 coming in second place.

The regular junior high division had enough teams to be split into two sessions, and the top three teams in each session were awarded. The Brooklyn Diamonds took the top spot again with their junior high team in the first session, while I.S. 318 came in second and St. Gregory’s came in third. In the second session of the junior high division, I.S. 93 was named the winner with I.S. 113 coming in second and P.S./I.S. 102 coming in third.

Two teams competed in the elementary dance division, and P.S. 88 was the first-place finisher while P.S. 71 came in second. Two teams also competed in the elite cheer division, with the GRYC Elite team taking first place and Columbia Secondary finishing in second place.

Spirit awards were also given to P.S. 71’s tiny cheer, mini cheer and mini dance teams, Iconic Cheer Elite and I.S. 217.

Take a look at the photo gallery below from the Owl NYC Cheerleading Competition.

 

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