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Cheerleaders stay spirited despite being grounded at homecoming

From left, Half Hollow Hills High School East

From left, Half Hollow Hills High School East cheerleading captains Jacqueline Leddy, 16, Emily Frank, 17, and Jessica Heiko, 17, share a moment during the school's homecoming festivities on Sept. 20, 2014. Credit: Rachael Funk

New Half Hollow Hills East High School cheerleading coach Kelly Cabasso plans to start a "big sisters, little sisters" like mentorship program among her team members.

This season has shown the need to have someone to lean on.

The Thunderbird cheer squad was making the best out of a tough season during homecoming festivities at the school Saturday, showing off enthusiasm despite their limitations. Not only are two of their three captains out with injuries, but Cabasso is still waiting for her coaching certification to be approved by the state. Until the paperwork is verified, the team must adhere to restrictive safety rules such as no jumping, tumbling or stunts of any kind.

"The rule is our feet can't leave the ground until they approve her," explained senior co-captain Emily Frank.               

The T-birds hope to participate in the Long Island Cheerleading Coaches Association competition in November. It will be tough to get ready, Frank explained, because "half the girls [on the squad] have been on JV or varsity before, but the other half have never done cheer."

To help encourage the girls while they wait for the coach's paperwork to come through, the captains said Cabasso is planning to pair up team members to help mentor the novice cheerleaders.

"It's not just for practice, though, it's supposed to be for the whole school year," Frank said of the process they hope will finally get the Thunderbirds off the ground.

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