Photo: The Kaneland Youth Competitive Cheer team gather after a first-place finish earlier in their season. The team concluded the year on Nov. 10. This year’s team included Asst. Coach Val Massa (back, left to right), Gianna Carbonara, Sarah Ball, Emma Zukauski, Brooke Bastone, Anna Massa, Alyssa Lech and Asst. Coach Meredith Haring; Emily Savarese (front), Kristin Layne, Kailey Krajewski, Niki Kull, (directly behind Niki) Regan Franzen, Maddy Wheatley, Anna Massa and Julianna Klecka. Not pictured are team alternate Brooke Johnson, Asst. Coach Megan Mendoza, Asst. Coach Theresa Miller and Coach Andrea Williams. Courtesy Photo
Kaneland—The Kaneland Youth Competitive Cheer team concluded its first season on Nov. 10 with a third-place finish at the Conant Spirit Challenge.
The team was organized by Andrea Williams last spring. After working with the KYBL cheerleading program for the past few season, Williams said she saw a desire for something more from the girls as they were reaching middle school. A former Kaneland cheerleader herself, Williams said there is currently no school-sponsored cheerleading program at the middle school level.
Even though many of the girls participate in the cheer programs offered by both KYFL and KYBL, the competitive arena is entirely different. Williams said the hope is that this competitive program will teach participants the skills they need and become a feeder program for the Kaneland High School team. Although there are other competitive teams in the area, high cost can be a factor for some families. Williams said she did her best to keep costs at a manageable level for participants, but noted that community support is what keeps programs like this running.
This season, the team consisted of 14 members and one team alternate between sixth and eighth grade. They practiced over the summer to learn a routine approximately 3 minutes in length including dance, cheer, tumbling and advanced stunting skills. Williams said she could not have gotten through the season without the help of her assistant coaches—Emily Haring, Meredith Haring, Valerie Massa, Megan Mendoza and Theresa Miller.
The Knights participated in three area competitions and earned first-, second-, and third-place finishes, respectively. The final competition on Nov. 10 was a qualifying event for the IRCA (Illinois Recreational Cheer Association) state competition in December. Williams said she was proud of the third-place finish—noting that the girls missed a state bid by 1.6 points.
You can find out more information about KYBL including the competitive cheer program and fundraising efforts by visiting their website at: www.kanelandcheer.org.