Since when is home-field advantage a disadvantage? Just ask Rocky Point cheerleading coach Anna Spallina.
“I think being at home brings a disadvantage,” said Spallina, whose team hosted Saturday’s cheer tournament. “We were out here last night prepping for the event and out here early this morning warming up so I’m happy the girls were able to muster up a good performance.”
The combination of a long night of prep and then being the first team to perform at 8:30 a.m. the next morning would be difficult for most cheer squads.
But not this host. The Eagles pushed through an opening performance that showed no signs of fatigue. The rousing performance helped them rock the house and outpoint the 10-team field to win the Suffolk Small Schools Division I event.
Hauppauge finished second.
“We repeat our stunt sequences over and over again until its perfected,” Rocky Point's Calista MacArthur said. “It’s usually five times a week, sometimes three hours a day, to make sure we are prepared for our competitions.”
The Eagles also take pride in the bond that they have with each other, a team that ranges from eighth-graders to seniors.
“We are all very close even though the age gap is big,” MacArthur said. We treat each other like sisters and do a lot of team bonding activities.”
Rocky Point has won all five of its competitions this season and looks forward to the UCA National High School Cheerleading Championships at Walt Disney World in Orlando, February 6-10.
After finishing second at nationals last year, the Eagles believe they have what it takes to take the title home this year.
“We make difficult stunts look easy,” Rocky Point assistant coach Arianna Scanlon said. “The other teams will try to do difficult stunts and may not be able to execute the way that we can. And some teams may not be able to handle the difficulty of our routines and they go with something much safer. We are the total package.”
Placing first in the Large Schools Co-Ed Division was Northport, with Patchogue-Medford finishing second. Northport will be making its first appearance in the national tournament in the Co-Ed Division.
“Having the boys changes the energy and enables the team to do things they have never done before,” Northport coach Danielle Milazzo said.
The Tigers have two boys on their team, Andrew Allbaugh and Sean Ryan, that have each made an immediate impact on the dynamic of practice and competition.
Mount Sinai won the Large Schools Division I event with Smithtown East finishing second.