It was back in 2014 that seventh-grader Samantha Ferrara stepped in to fill an opening on the Rocky Point cheerleading team.
A team member had quit two weeks before the regional tournament, coach Anna Spallina recalled, and she knew a then 12-year old Ferrara had the ability to step in.
The squad didn’t miss a beat and went on to win regionals and the UCA National High School Cheerleading championship.
“Before one of our most intense competitions, I literally went over to the JV mat and pulled her off,” Spallina said. “From that time forward, she never made a peep. She just learned and absorbed.”
Ferrara’s been a key cog for Rocky Point ever since. On March 2, the senior flyer led the Eagles to the small school state Division I championship in Syracuse, earning her Newsday’s Athlete of the Week honors.
“She’s exceptional in that she has never once disappointed us,” Spallina said. “She takes the mat and she’s a presence. She’s that kid you want to look at.”
Ferrara is the only six-year Rocky Point cheerleader in program history. She’s taken what she’s learned on the mat and on the sidelines and transformed into the leader she is today.
“She really is someone who leads by example,” Spallina said. “She’ll gravitate toward the younger girls and get in their head to give them the confidence they need. She’s respected by everyone. After the girls listen to her, they’ll never hesitate from that day forward.”
Ferrara’s list of accomplishments is impressive. She was named Newsday’s Suffolk Cheerleader of the Year in 2018. She helped led the Eagles to four consecutive Suffolk titles, including undefeated runs through the county in 2018 and 2019.
“Some of the other coaches have joked with me asking when she’s finally graduating because she’s been that good,” Spallina said with a laugh.
And her accomplishments don’t stop on the mat. Spallina said she’s a member of the National Honor Society and helps run kid cheerleading clinics while mentoring other cheerleaders under the age of 12.
“Being a great athlete enhances who she is,” Spallina said. “She’s constantly striving to be better than she was yesterday — she’s the whole package.”