Small steps translated into the ultimate success for the Seaford cheerleading squad.
Before the Vikings achieved their biggest goal of the season by becoming back-to-back state Division II large school champions, they worked on the little things.
And it all started with the “hit board” in their practice gym.
“At the beginning of the year, we put up a poster where we could color in how many hits we had throughout the season to motivate us to perfect our stunts,” Kayla Fallarino-Forte said, referring to a "hit," which is when a team performs an entire routine without a deduction. “It was a way to have fun at practice and it really helped us stay motivated.”
The Vikings’ first goal was to achieve 30 hits by the end of the season to remain undefeated in the county, having not lost a competition since 2017.
Goals have been a big part of this team’s success for the past six years, as the Vikings have strived to build on their routines each year.
“I always push my team to try new things. For the past 15 years, I’ve always thought about what I can do to make them more successful,” coach Lisa Ferrari said. “We always try to set the bar just a little bit higher. The team has a specific goal each year that will make the routine better so they can leave something behind that the previous team hasn’t done.”
This year, that was the front tuck-up.
“We’ve done them in pyramids before, but no one has seen them done in five single stunt groups,” said Fallarino-Forte, one of the flyers to complete the stunt along with Kaylee Elias, Jillian Bartolomeo, Melissa Pfieffer and Katie Kofod. “We worked incredibly hard on making those perfect and it completely elevated our routine. Once we started to hit those, it helped our confidence tremendously.”
The Vikings’ success during the season sent them straight to the UCA National Championship, where they placed eighth in the Division II large team finals.
“It wasn’t where we wanted to end up, but we never lost our faith in each other,” Miranda Montes said. “We used the experience as motivation to finish the season strong and show everyone the team we truly are.”
“The idea of trust was not lost," Ferrari added. "They held true to themselves and that was key.”
But hit by hit, the squad had quickly surpassed its first goal. One week later, Seaford competed in the county championship, where the Vikings earned the highest score with a 97.3.
And after the state championship, there were over 50 colored squares on the hit board.
“We put in 110% at every practice working on our hits so for it all to show at the end by being back-to-back state champions was the best feeling,” Montes said. “There’s nothing better than leaving everything you have out on the mat and giving it your all."
“Our ultimate goal was to leave a lasting impression at both the Long Island and state level,” Fallarino-Forte said. “We wanted our team to be remembered and I think we did that. Now, we just want the next team to continue building a legacy for Seaford cheer.”