Neuqua Valley cheerleaders earn 10th in IHSA finals
By Jane Donahue For The Sun February 5, 2013 12:38PM
Neuqua Valley High School varsity cheerleaders have even more to cheer about after placing 10th in the large school division of the Illinois High School Association competitive cheerleading state finals Feb. 1 to 2. | Submitted
Updated: March 9, 2013 6:15AM
Neuqua Valley High School varsity cheerleaders have even more to cheer about after placing 10th in the large school division of the Illinois High School Association competitive cheerleading state finals Feb. 1 to 2.
“Advancing to the finals at the Illinois High School Association competition level is truly an unforgettable feeling,” said Keeley Rosenthal, assistant varsity coach. “When they called our name, there was a sense of overall accomplishment. Knowing at that moment, we were one of the best 10 teams in the state of Illinois, makes one feel incredibly humble.”
Susie Knoblauch, assistant executive director of the Illinois High School Association, said the eighth annual series drew more than 11,000 spectators to the U.S. Cellular Coliseum in Bloomington.
“Schools and fans are following their competitive cheer teams more and more,” Knoblauch said. “(It was) the best attendance ever.”
Knoblauch said many schools organized “fan buses,” arriving to cheer for athletes who spend considerable time cheering for others.
“Competitive cheerleaders — as per Illinois High School Association rules — must also be participants of their winter sideline cheer teams; these student athletes make a huge commitment to their sport,” she said. “This competition allows the opportunity to recognize the talents of students in our member schools that sometime go unnoticed.”
More than 300 teams competed throughout the season, with 100 qualifying for the state series. Varsity teams from Naperville Central and Metea Valley advanced in the large school division, while Naperville North made its first series appearance in the coed category.
Neuqua Valley, coached by Kathy Tichelbaut, Rosenthal and Michele Doty, was the sole Naperville team to advance to Saturday’s finals.
“We have great respect for our neighboring cheerleading programs and want to congratulate them as well on a great season,” Rosenthal said. “You watch many teams at the state level that have put in the same amount of hours, sweat and tears that you do, and they do not make it to the next day. It comes down to two minutes and 55 seconds that decides your fate for the next day.”
The coaching staff said their 24-member team “left it all on the mat that night,” and “should feel proud of what they accomplished.”
“One thing that stood out about the girls’ performance that night was their true level of dedication they had within them; they never gave up,” Rosenthal said. “They knew that if they did not give it their all, this could be their last performance. Even when mistakes were made, they kept fighting back.”
Rosenthal said the successful season is a credit not only to the athletes, but to the parents and Wildcat community who supported them throughout the season.
“There are many people behind-the-scenes who give their time, money and expertise to help support the Neuqua Valley cheerleading program,” she said.
We are going to come back next year hungrier than ever, and we hope you are all there right along with us.”