On competition days, Allyson Ottomano takes her front-and-center position for Wantagh’s cheer team. She exudes grace with every tumble, she defies gravity with every jump.
“She’s beautiful to watch perform,” coach Jenna Schwartz said. “Her skill level is incredible. Any stunt you give her, she can do.”
But for Ottomano, consistently nailing her routine was only a fraction of her self-appointed team responsibilities. Newsday’s Nassau Cheerleader of the Year also was front and center in practice, acting as a vocal leader for her county-title-bound team.
“If I saw somebody struggling with something,” she said, “I would make sure to keep things positive for them, and then figure out specifically what they were struggling with, and helping them with it.”
Ottomano, a back spotter with a 97.6 grade-point average, served two years as captain. Her leadership ability was first tested when one of the team’s stunt groups was mired in an extended funk midway through last season.
“We said something needs to change,” Schwartz said. “The group was talented, but they were struggling to get it together.”
Insert Ottomano, who joined the group and promptly injected a confidence and wherewithal that yielded immediate results.
“They ended up hitting in every single competition after Allyson was put into that spot,” Schwartz said. “And they had been falling all year. Just her talent alone could save a stunt, but her ability as a leader makes her the complete package.”
This year, Ottomano assumed an even larger leadership role. “It was like having another coach out there,” Schwartz said. “I loved having her on my team. Honestly, she’s a coach’s dream.”
So it was no coincidence Wantagh’s season ended in dreamlike fashion: a county title at the inaugural Suffolk championships, held in Wantagh High School’s main gymnasium.
“It really was an amazing way to wrap up my three years on varsity,” Ottomano said. “And to share it with my teammates, it was the perfect way for everything to end.”