West Islip cheerleaders during the Suffolk High School Division II...

West Islip cheerleaders during the Suffolk High School Division II football game between West Islip and Lindenhurst on Saturday Oct 8 2022 at West Islip High School. Credit: Bob Sorensen

State competitive cheerleading is expanding into the fall season. The state Public High School Athletic Association’s Executive Committee approved a Game Day Cheerleading state championship Wednesday, NYSPHSAA executive director Robert Zayas tweeted. The championships will begin next fall.

The state already holds competitive cheerleading championships as part of their winter season. While winter season cheerleading features more complex, gymnastics-adjacent routines, Game Day cheerleading features more chanting and sideline-like activity, akin to routines seen at high school football games, said Nassau cheerleading coordinator Jen Keane.

“You can use a fight song to motivate the crowd,” Keane said. “They are really leading a cheer. It’s very different than competitive [cheerleading]. I think it will bring more participation for our student athletes. The skill level does not have to be as advanced for significant success. I think it’s going to grow the sport and provide more opportunities for our student-athletes across the state.”

The state has held fall invitationals the last two seasons, sort of a trial run at official championships, Keane said.

“I think that the Game Day cheer made the competitive team better in the cheer portion of the [winter season] routine,” Keane said.

Suffolk did not participate in the non-championship invitationals because of a ‘lack of interest,’ but will compete in the Game Day championships next fall, said Tom Combs, the executive director of Section XI, the body that governs high school sports in Suffolk.

“I think it’s great,” he said. “We have more opportunities in a primarily girls sport, which is awesome. In cheerleading, we win most of the classifications in the [winter] cheer, so I think we’ll be very successful in this.”

Suffolk has won eight championships across five classifications since the state began holding competitive cheerleading state championships in 2016, according the NYSPHSAA official website.

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