Maureen Grosskreuz joined the Longwood High School cheerleaders on the track during the school’s homecoming game Friday.

And while she wasn't dressed in uniform, she still channeled some cheerleader spirit, engaging in the chatting, hugging and enthusiastic smiling.

No wonder she feels comfortable in that setting. Grosskreuz, a former cheerleader and member of the Class of 2000, is now coach of the team to which she once belonged.

She took over for her former coach, Donna Roenbeck, who retired at the end of the previous school year after 29 years.

“There are clearly big shoes to fill here,” admits Grosskreuz, who was known as Maureen Short when she was a student. “Coach Roenbeck took this school to the nationals many times, and that’s only a bit of what she meant to many Longwood cheerleaders.”

Last December, Roenbeck brought on Grosskreuz as an assistant coach; she had already been working at Loongwood as a teaching assistant.

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“She had already taught me as a coach,” Grosskreuz said, “but then became more of a mentor, teaching me about everything from running a practice to paperwork.”

She finds the experience is still somewhat surreal.

“I’m literally coaching in the gym I cheered in ... my name’s even written on the wall,” Grosskreuz said, referring to the many former Longwood athletes who have their names permanently painted on the walls of the gymnasium.

When Roenbeck retired, Grosskreuz applied for the job, and with Roenbeck’s blessing, took the position when it was offered. The two remain close.

“Donna knew I’d be nervous about [the homecoming game], and she’s been texting me today, wishing me good luck,” Grosskreuz said.

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Longwood cheerleader Julianna Szczepanik appreciates Grosskreuz's leadership. “Coach definitely makes us work hard,” she said, her point proven during one particular routine the coach called for about four minutes prior to halftime.

“Line up, get into position,” Grosskreuz said with authority, her grin flattening as she paced past the squad.

The routine went smoothly from start to finish, and Grosskreuz’s smile quickly returned.