Portettes, cheerleaders gain new roles with varsity status: Programs provide entertainment for football, basketball intermissions

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Elana Galassi

The cheerleading team now performs at halftime during football and basketball games. They will be involved in competitive cheer next year.

Dan Miranda, Sports Editor

In the 2009-10 school year, the Portettes and the cheerleaders became parts of varsity athletics program for the first time.

In the past, the two had merely been classified as “clubs” rather than “sports.”

“The cheerleaders wanted to be part of a sports team and plus they were working specifically at sporting events, so it made sense,” said Athletic Director Ms.  Stephanie Joannon.  “It would have been easy to keep them as a club, but making them a varsity team gave them another place to showcase their talents.”

Thanks to a push from then-Club Advisor (now Head Coach) Ms.  Robin Cooper, the Portettes also attained varsity status.

“It wasn’t really fair to classify us as a club when throughout the year we put in as much time and effort as a sports team does in their season,” said senior captain Arianna Kosloff.

Being a part of the athletic program meant that both teams would have to get cleared by the health office, would be included in captains’ meetings, and would be funded by Schreiber’s Athletic budget.  This meant better uniforms and increased  exposure for both the cheerleaders and the Portettes.

“Both groups are now being viewed not just as a ‘sideline attraction’, but a ‘main event,’” said Ms.  Joannon.  “I think when you look at the football games, people look for the Portettes, people look for the cheerleaders.  From a personal perspective, it’s nice that people don’t get up at halftime, and stay in their seats to watch the performances from both groups.”

Many students have begun to ask what the difference is between the two groups, which have a number of similarities in their practices.

The Portettes perform their kickline routine at football and basketball games; the cheerleaders attend and cheer at both as well.

Both wave pom-poms in parades and at town events, like Pride in Port, the Memorial Day Parade, and the pep rallies in the fall and spring.

“The best moments this fall have been performing for the Pep Rally and for the first half of the football game,” said senior cheerleading captain Kela Yankana.

Although neither group officially plays in games, both teams practice and hold tryouts.   

Both of these sports are require large  time commitments for the athletes involved.

Unlike any other sport, both teams compete across all of the different athletic seasons.

Despite their apparent similarities, the two teams have many distinguishing differences.

The cheerleading team has gone from cheering with pom-poms for the home team to a more “competitive cheer,” which includes stunts and some dance routines.

Our cheerleaders are moving toward the competitive cheer status, although they’re still cheerleaders.  New York State is including competitive cheer as a recognized sport beginning next year,” said Ms.  Joannon.

This represents an important step for the cheerleading program, which will be able to perform and compete just as the gymnastics team.

The Portettes have always been a kickline, but have transformed from being a part of the band to becoming more of a dance group.

“Once the Portettes came under the ‘athletics’ umbrella, we expanded their role during the basketball season to halftime dancing.  Then last year, we expanded it further to one minute dances for grade levels between the third and fourth quarters,” said Ms.  Joannon.

The cheerleading team practices in the Commons and the Portettes in the cafeteria.   While the cheerleading team reports “no real conflicts” regarding practice space, Kosloff and the Portettes believed that the improvement in status from club to team would lead to better practice space, but it has not.

“It’s just difficult with thirty girls to practice in small spaces.   We always end up rearranging the cafeteria because we have no room,” said Kosloff.

While the two groups are different in many ways, there is a mutual appreciation between those involved in both athletic activities.

“I truly believe that both the Portettes and cheerleaders have a mutual respect because they know how much work and effort needs to be put into it.  The hours of practice and the chemistry involved applies to both groups,” said Ms.  Joannon.