Every score from the Sachem High School East during its 27-20 homecoming win over Bay Shore Saturday was punctuated by clapping hands and joyous shouts from the school's cheerleaders.
Helping to lead those celebrations was junior Evan Terranova, the first male cheerleader in Sachem East history, according to the school's faculty and cheerleading coaches.
"He uplifts the girls, he's so awesome," says JV cheerleading coach Briana Murphy, when describing what Terranova adds to her team. "He brings a ton of energy."
Terranova, a junior, made the decision in the spring to move away from his former specialty of gymnastic floor work and go out for cheerleading. "A lot of my friends were already on the team, and they thought I should go for it... I tried out, I tried it and I really like it."
A male presence does have special value, as the added muscle allows the coaches to inject more acrobatic movements into routines.
Katie Williams, the other JV coach, sums it up: "He's a rock! No one is coming down (getting dropped) around him. It will always give us an advantage over a bunch of other teams, and not just on Long Island but at the state level (of competition)."
Terranova wants to be a foundation for the team in many ways.
"I feel like I'm taking a leadership role," he says. "More people look up to you when you can do something usually not done. Also, in gymnastics, no one really sees you work. Everyone sees me now, out on the field, and it's empowering."
Williams hopes that Terranova's example empowers others.
"What he's doing," says Williams, "tells other boys who might want to try but aren't sure that they can to be confident... Every time I see him out there he's glowing."