Four sisters make it on Seaford cheerleading squad
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Separate classes, different schedules, unique personalities and, at home, even four hair dryers.
So it was from early childhood for the Meyer sisters, Mackenzie and identical triplets Cassidy, Jillian and Alexa.
Their mom, Carolyn Meyer, said child care experts advised it was best to allow each of her triplets "to do their own thing."
Although it worked -- they all have different interests -- they still found common ground in cheerleading -- which is a family affair.
Mackenzie, 17, Cassidy, Jillian and Alexa, 16, are four members of the 24-person varsity cheer team at Seaford High School. There they were together on the sidelines of the Seaford football game on Thursday. Step-for-step, the cheerleading team appeared so in sync, with its members' movements and mannerisms so closely mirroring one another's, it was difficult to distinguish one from the next.
Well, the Meyers more so.
"It's one of the coolest things we could have imagined," Jillian said. "We've always been cheerleaders, but the four of us being on a team is kind of surreal."
This season is the first time all four have been teammates -- the living-room singing quartet they've playfully formed notwithstanding.
Carolyn Meyer is a former cheerleader herself and her girls began the activity at age 5.
"We all enjoy dancing and performing," Alexa said, "so I think it [cheerleading] came pretty naturally."
Mackenzie, a senior, made Seaford's varsity cheer squad as a sophomore and the triplets hoped to make the team, too. They knew the possibility existed of one day being on the team together, Cassidy said. But after tryouts in June, when it was announced the trio had made the roster: "Wow!" Cassidy said of her reaction. "We had been waiting for this since we were 5 and it finally happened."
Carolyn Meyer joked that while teams often compare themselves to a family, "We say, 'We're not just a family, we're a team.' "
The cheerleading team also includes sisters Anna and Emily Gagliano and cousins Paige and Melissa Franco. Last year, Melissa, Mackenzie and Kelly Wolfson played for Seaford's field hockey team.
But four sisters, whom many mistake for quadruplets, on the same team? "That," Seaford cheerleading coach Lisa Ferrari said, "I hadn't seen before."
The girls share a similar sense of humor and rarely bicker, their father Tim Meyer said.
The difference comes in musical tastes and even their long-term aspirations. For example, Jillian plans to study neuroscience in college while Alexa says she is interested in magazine journalism. Mackenzie said she wants to study biology and is considering medicine and Cassidy wants to keep her options open
"At first, telling the triplets apart was worrisome," Ferrari said, "but they each have quirks. You get to know them a little and you can tell."
Each sister has her own strength in cheerleading, the coach said. Alexa is the most acrobatic; Cassidy is the best dancer; Jillian is the most athletic; Mackenzie is the most fluid and technically sound. But each has excelled, and all four received All-America honors after a Universal Cheerleading Association camp in August.
"I was never on teams with them [the triplets] growing up, so we didn't have the same routines," Mackenzie said, "But we always practiced at home, so I would learn all of theirs and try to give pointers."
The big-sister role hasn't changed much now, as Mackenzie is one of the team captains and, when in formation, the sisters are all back spots. During stunts and pyramids, the spotters stand adjacent to the bases and their primary focus is the safety of the flyers in aerial maneuvers. That includes the signature "hitch pyramid" and "no-hands 360" toss, in which the flyer is hoisted and then tossed in the air by the base and the spotters and does a full twirl before being caught.
"I don't trust too many people when I'm up in the air, but I definitely trust them," said teammate Cindy Nieman, who added that the sisters' presence on the team has fostered a greater sense of "family and unity."
In addition to performing at sporting events, the Seaford team will compete in several tournaments beginning in November. The goal, Ferrari said, is to improve on last season's 10th-place finish in nationals in Orlando in February.
Perhaps the Sister Act will help.
"A lot of things have changed for us over the years," Jillian said, "but cheerleading has been the constant. We're our own people, but cheerleading always brings us together."