Samantha Asaro, captain of Paul D. Schreiber High School's cheerleading team, talked Saturday at the school’s homecoming celebration in Port Washington about how she has been shy most of her life. But Saturday she was performing proudly, and she credits cheerleading coach Nataly Giannuzzi for helping her find her voice and her confidence over the last few years.

"Cheerleading has really helped me put myself out there," she said.

Before becoming Asaro's cheerleading coach, Giannuzzi was her fourth-grade teacher.

"After fourth grade we went about five years without seeing each other," Giannuzzi said. "I became her coach when she joined the cheerleading team in ninth grade."

Asaro said that Giannuzzi always tried to pull her out of her shell.

"Even when I was her student, she taught me to have confidence and to speak up," Asaro said. "She taught me how to keep going even if I mess up."

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Asaro said that when she first joined the cheerleading team she was nervous and quiet, but now as team captain, she helps other cheerleaders believe in themselves. She said she could not have done it without Giannuzzi pushing her.

"She blossomed into a leader and has really learned how to assert herself," Giannuzzi said.

Asaro had advice for other girls who may struggle with finding their voice.

"Don't let anyone tell you who you are or tell you what you can't do," she said.