What is the secret to success? HEHS cheerleaders might have figured it out

Sarah Hazenfield, Staff Writer

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Hard-work, extensive training, and traditions all made this competition season very successful for the Hoffman Estates High School cheerleading team.

“The team was more like a family and had such a close bond,” said Angela Kleich, freshman. “We had great accomplishments even after switching to an all-girl division.”

This close bond helped HEHS cheerleaders win 1st place in the MSL conference and second place at semi-finals.

Something that keeps the girls motivated and helped them create connections is building traditions. This year the girls read a book together called ​Chop Wood, Carry Water ​by Joshua Medcalf. Brittany Donatucci, head coach of the varsity cheerleaders, said that the book “served as an enlightening force for [the girls] and kind of reconnected them to what it was that originally brought them into cheerleading and reignited that passion.”

Another tradition the girls have is to read a quote by Ralph Marston before every competition. They also listen to their routine music twice while visualizing the routine. Some of the girls are superstitious and require everyone to sit in the same spot for warm-ups and quote reading.

Having these traditions in place helped the girls through a challenging season. Cheerleading season is eight months long, starting in June and running until January. This year they switched from co-ed cheer to Big Varsity Comp, which is an all-girls league. Some girls were unsure about their abilities, but having these traditions strengthened their relationships with one another and motivated them to do their best.

When asked what move set HEHS apart from other schools, Donatucci said that their single-based libs or two-man libs (when the top girl is only on one foot) were probably key to their overall successes. This used every single person on the floor. Another move that set them apart was their seven elite baskets, also known as opening baskets.

Donatucci said that their best performance was at sectionals, even though their biggest accomplishment was at the MSL conference.

This year, the HEHS varsity cheerleading squad was comprised of 16 people, including Kylee Berkson, Kayli Fawbush, Daphne Gutierrez, Christine Kasan, Angela Kleich, Kaelyn Kramp, Kati Krogstad, Danni Loughran, Alyvia Moore, Taty Pena, Kirsten Pielmeier, Jess Pineda, Kevin Rebollo, Jada Santana, Jessica Santos, and Cassie Stahnke.

Unfortunately, this year was both Donatucci’s and Coach Zajcew’s last year coaching. Donatucci says they are hoping to find someone who can carry on the rich traditions that we have instilled in the program, as well as keep the bar set high in terms of skill level.

Those who will continue as active members of the team next year are looking ahead in a positive way as well.

“I hope we are able to accomplish as much as we did this year or even more,” says Kleich.

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