Oliver Ames Cheer Squad Rises to New Heights
For the first time in program history, the OA cheerleaders were invited to cheer at a college bowl game.
Success seems to be contagious at Muscato Stadium on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons.
After a historic football season in 2011 that ended in the program's first ever appearance in a Super Bowl at Gillette Stadium, the OA football squad isn't the only program making their mark on school history.
With every snap, play call and touchdown; the OA cheerleaders have been on the sideline showing their Tiger pride.
And, this December, they'll be the first group in school history to cheer at a college bowl game.
"We’ve been working hard," senior captain Jacquey Gover said. "We came from not a very good reputation and we’ve been building it up. The Super Bowl definitely helped our team. The cheerleaders were there for all of it and the Shriner’s Game. After that it just kind of happened. We’ve been working hard, definitely."
Gover and the rest of her squad was invited to attend the Russell Athletic Bowl in Orlando, FL for four days from Dec. 26 through Dec. 30. The trip will be highlighted by a halftime routine at the game and an appearance at the Universal Macy's Day Parade.
The team invitation shows how far the OA cheering program has come, assistant coach Crystal Mordas said.
Mordas and head coach Christine Power have worked to develop a new attitude for their group in recent years.
"We’ve really tried to turn the program around to be more positive and give the girls a lot a lot of encouragement that they could do it," Mordas said. "This team has really accepted all the new girls and has grown as a team so much more than in the past."
Before this year, individual seniors have been invited to bowl games and on trips, but never has an entire group earned the feat.
"In years past, we’ve gone to UCA [Universal Cheerleaders Association] camp and you try out for all-stars and individuals try out," Mordas said. "In past years, individual seniors from OA have gone to different locations."
Even the squad's appearance at UCA camp in July helped solidify its reputation as a tight-knit group.
The Tigers cheer squad ended camp with the "most improved" trophy and the Leadership Award, which was voted on by the five participating schools.
"They voted on the leadership award and that was unanimous," Mordas said. "Every team voted for us.
"I believe my girls showed the best leadership during camp. They were on time. They practiced hard. They always had smiles on their face. They were very spirited for four days."
The hard work that got them this far will need to continue in December, Gover said. While she is looking forward to the trip to Florida, it will be no picnic. The Tigers will need to learn a new routine in two days before the game.
"We get one free day, which we’re going to go to Universal Studios and take the girls to the amusement park," Mordas said. "They get free passes to the amusement park. Two of the days are pretty much just practicing all day and one of the other days is the parade."
The experience in Florida will only help the group grow closer.
"We’re kind of a family," said Gover. "We’re not just a group that has done one season of cheers. We’re a family and we stick together and support each other."