If there’s one thing cheerleaders pride themselves on, it’s the connections and relationships they build with other teams, even the ones they compete against.
That was evident on Saturday at the Section XI Cheerleading Competition in Commack.
What’s helping foster these friendships? TikTok, one of the world’s fastest-growing social media platforms, allowing users to create and share short videos on any topic.
“It all about mat talk,” Commack coach Chelsea Fluger said. “The girls communicate through performances and now, TikTok dances. They are truly one big family, which creates a positive environment.”
The period between the session’s last performance and when the results are announced is when all the magic happens. In that 20-minute frame, cheerleaders from each team rise and dance to each viral TikTok song.
“TikTok is the new big thing,” said Mike Bertone of DJC Productions, who provided the music for Saturday’s event. “I cover all the Suffolk cheerleading competitions and noticed the cheerleaders know all the viral dances so it actually makes my life easier as DJ because I can just scroll through the app and pick popular songs from there all day long.”
Mount Sinai’s execution and jumps helped them come out on top in a seven-team field to win the Suffolk Large Schools Division I title. The Mustangs are looking to defend their UCA National High School Cheerleading Championships title at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Feb. 6-10.
“Nothing is sweeter than repeater,” Mount Sinai cheerleader Sydney Kearns said. “All eyes are on us this year, plus the connections we have made with other teams makes everything sweeter and more fun going to compete in nationals this year.”
Mount Sinai’s energy and spirit on the mat is just as significant as their sportsmanship and integrity.
“When the teams go down for nationals, we want to support each other and build each other up,” Mount Sinai coach Megan Wesolowski said. “Long Island has one of the strongest cheerleading (programs) in the country so we want everyone to do as well as they can whether we are competing against each other or not.”
Placing first in Small Schools Division I was Hauppauge. The Eagles will also be making an appearance in the national tournament.
Laura Alonzo, the Hauppauge coach and the Suffolk County Cheerleading Coaches Association president, believes there are a lot of benefits to practicing with other teams due to the “added pressure and camaraderie.”
Like the majority of high schoolers that competed in Saturday’s competition, the Hauppauge girls are also enjoying TikTok to the fullest.
“I might have to ban TikTok during nationals,” Alonzo said jokingly. “I guess it’s better than doing other things but the girls need to make sure they are focused on where they, But it’s cute. I like to use it, too.”
Hauppauge and West Islip got together last week and did a combined TikTok dance.
“It’s truly a community,” said Fluger. “With all the music and dancing that takes place, it truly feels like we are living through a Sweet 16 every week.”