The Seaford cheerleading team had little expectations in its first year competing as a Game Day cheer squad.
“We had a dream, but we didn’t have expectations because it was so new to us,” coach Lisa Ferrari said. “We were just going to practice hard and give it our best try.”
To their surprise, their efforts yielded the best possible results amid a historic season.
Seaford won all three Game Day competitions during the regular season en route to a Class B county championship crown and a state championship title. The squad posted a score of 93.5 at the inaugural Game Day state championship on November 5. It was the highest score among all three classes.
“We put every last bit of our energy into that final performance. You could hear it, see it and feel it,” senior Katie Kofod said. “We came off that mat and everyone knew we couldn’t have done any better. It was such an ecstatic feeling after all the hard work we put in this season.”
Game Day cheerleading poses a different challenge from traditional cheerleading, which competes in the winter season. The routines are based around the individual school’s band chant and fight song and cannot include tumbling passes. The judging, based on how effective the squad is at “rallying” the crowd, is what makes obtaining a high score unpredictable.
“Game Day is more subjective so it's hard to anticipate what to expect from the judging panels,” Ferrari said. “We are a very traditional heavy program. We drill our stunts and focus on difficulty but there is no difficulty score in Game Day. This was a huge departure for the girls as they had to shift their focus to different parts of the routine.”
Seaford, which won its second consecutive state Class B Traditional title last year, faced initial difficulty transitioning to the new style.
“The first month of practice was definitely a challenge because it was a completely new form for all of us,” Kofod said. “We had to work twice as hard to catch up to the other teams who had two or more years under their belt. We all had to step up and be leaders.”
And as the team worked to improve its sharpness and cleanliness, it realized how Game Day could enhance its traditional routines.
“Our struggles in previous years had included keeping our voices loud and sharp,” Kofod said. “Now I feel like not only can we hit, but we can also perform.”
“We look more like a team now,” senior Jess Haering said. “It felt so much more amazing to win Game Day because we started off not knowing what to expect. Now we know how much our hard work can pay off.”
And with the traditional cheer season already underway, Seaford is now looking toward a bigger dream.
“We got one state championship this year," Kofod said. "Let’s go for another.”