Less than a third of a point.
When the Seaford cheerleading team made their way up to Rochester Institute of Technology for the state championships on March 5, the group possessed a level of motivation far different from the rest of the competition due to that miniscule fraction.
Because it was only about a month prior that Seaford’s quest for the ultimate prize fell short in heartbreaking fashion, as the Vikings fell by only 0.3 points to Live Oak (Louisiana) in the National High School Cheerleading Championships at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida.
After accepting the reality of their difficult loss, senior captain Ava Albanese said the moment had a profound impact on how the Vikings approached their pursuit of other highly coveted titles – including the program’s first ever state championship.
“With being only 0.3 away from national champions, this motivated my team and I to work ten times harder to win not only a county championship but a state championship too,” Albanese said. “We knew that if we were that close to winning, we could work for the win we’ve been wanting all season long.
“Even though we did not win, second place in the nation is still incredible and we couldn’t be prouder to have come this far in this program.”
And when Seaford finally arrived to RIT’s Gordon Fieldhouse for the Division II Large School championship – the final group of the day – it was well aware that other Long Island schools had already won three of the first four divisions.
But despite the pressure of living up to the massive performances by the other local teams that preceded them, the Vikings not only secured their first state title in program history, but did so by earning the highest score of the day with a score of 92.05.
“I really couldn’t believe it was happening,” senior captain Jordan Mahoney said. “I was in absolute shock and was so happy. I couldn’t stop balling my eyes out knowing our season ended by bringing home a state championship.”
Senior captain Alysia LoVerde referenced the surprising Disney conclusion as a learning moment that ultimately made this triumphant one possible.
“We had so much more strive to win because we knew what it felt like to lose by tenths of a point,” LoVerde said. “We knew we had to fix the little things, not just the stunts. We had to be cleaner and sharper than we have ever been.”
Seaford coach Lisa Ferrari, who has been at the helm for 14 years, said the Vikings found a new, uplifting spark after returning from Orlando.
“Losing to Live Oak by just 0.3 was both exciting and also the fire that they still needed lit underneath them,” Ferrari said. “To just have missed that national championship win and helped get them into and be successful for that state win.”
Though Ferrari detailed Seaford’s myriad accolades during her tenure, which include undefeated New York state regular seasons “over the last five or six years running,” and being named county champions for a fifth consecutive season, she commended this group for lifting each other to the even higher level of state champions.
“Hearing that announcement was just overwhelming,” Ferrari said. “I still can’t believe it. This journey and this group have been incredible. We graduated 15 seniors last year and for them to step in, understand the job they had to do and how hard it was to overcome that and work together and figure that out, when it clicked, my goodness did it click.”