September 14—For the first time since the 2001-2002 school year. High school St. Peter now has a team of cheerleaders, something that senior and varsity captain Karen Bocanegra has been pushing for since freshman year.
“I want to say that this is really something that I wanted to bring the community together, and I felt that we needed a little more spirit in St. Peter’s, and so I feel like this is a way to connect the city with our schools as well,” she said.
Now that the program is underway, Bocanegra described the team as a bonding experience and that the atmosphere at games has been filled with nothing but positivity.
“This is honestly a mini family for me,” she said. “Even at school it’s like, ‘You guys were great.’ It’s just little compliments like that.”
Bocanegra said the effort to bring the team back started again from trying to find a teacher who could fill the coaching role.
That coach ended up being English teacher Jennifer Curtis, who also pushed for the team’s revival.
“I was a cheerleader in high school, so when I started at St. Peter’s in 2018-2019, I knew it was something I wanted to do eventually. Then a year later, the pandemic happened, so that kind of went away on hold,” Curtis said.
Last year, she said, when events returned to normal, she noticed a team spirit in the air.
“The kids were so excited to be in everything. Like, at our sporting events, the band group was so excited,” she said. “That’s when it kind of dawned on me that this is something St. Peter’s is ready for and needs, because our student section is super fun.”
Curtis said the idea was well received by students and interest quickly spread. She also had the help of other staff who joined her in setting up the team.
While the team only started cheering this fall after summer practices, Curtis held a workshop in the spring.
“When I was setting this up in the spring, I didn’t know what the interest was going to be like, so originally it was just varsity home football games, but then all of a sudden we have 26 girls, and we’re like, ‘Oh my God, that’s not enough.’ We added JV, we started cheering football games and JV football games,” she said.
The team has a total of 26 girls, 13 on the varsity and 13 on the JV team.
So far, Curtis said, the games are going great.
“At our first game, it was a girls’ soccer game, it was the first game we ever cheered for, and the crowd cheered back. They caught on super quick. They look forward to the cheerleaders being there. The kids just love it, so that we’ve been well received, and it’s just great as a coach to see not only the girls shine, but our student section shine even more,” she said.
Bocanegra said bringing the team back brought back memories for the city as well, and she’s already looking ahead to making sure the team continues for years to come.
“I think right now we’re definitely trying to push for more seasons, basketball season and so forth,” she said, adding that they’re also looking for ways to get junior high school players involved.
Senior and JV captain Averie Byrd said starting on the team her senior year is bittersweet, but it’s exciting to be part of the first group of girls to bring the team back.
“I wanted to meet girls my age, cheer on my peers and make my senior year really, really fun,” she said.
Byrd added that she will miss it.
“I really wish it had been when I was in ninth grade,” she said. “It was also super fun, and I’m super happy to be a part of it.”
Who left St Peters?
Doug Edert moves from Saint Peter’s to Bryant as post-NCAA tournament exodus continues. On the same subject : Next Woman Up: Molly Higgins, EVP of Community Affairs and Engagement for the Los Angeles Rams. Saint Peter’s became the biggest Cinderella in NCAA Tournament history, with the Peacocks advancing to the Elite Eight as the 15th seed.
Why did Holloway leave St Peters? The Peacocks became the lowest seed in tournament history at No. 15 entering the Elite Eight. Following their exit from the tournament, Holloway announced that he would be leaving Saint Peter’s to become the head coach at his alma mater, Seton Hall.