Cheerleaders cheer together, show skills for Marisa Rose Bowl

Cheering on Marisa at the Rose Bowl seemed like a fun and rewarding experience. Olivia Varga was definitely interested. However, she is graduating from Metuchen High School, and the summer before college is always full of activities and time to juggle. In addition, he has not cheered since winter.

However, her older sister Abigail urged her to say yes for the simple reason that she never got the chance.

Organizers selected Abigail Varga after her senior year for the 2020 event, which was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“He basically said you only get this once,” Olivia said. “Don’t miss it because he had a chance and it was taken away from him. He said you always have to do everything for a good cause and at the end of the day it’s a fun time with everybody.

And that sums up the true spirit of the two-week event, which culminates July 21 with the Middlesex County Charity All-Star Football Game featuring recent graduates at North Brunswick High School.

Not only will you get to show off your skills and meet competitors from across the county, but you’ll also be raising money for a worthy charity.

Formerly known as the Snapple Bowl and Autoland Classic, the game is now sponsored by Bellamy Sons and Paving, with proceeds benefiting the Marisa Tufaro Foundation, whose mission is to help pediatric patients and children in need throughout the greater Middlesex County area.

The 46 cheerleaders are split between Team Marisa and Team Rose. Really, it’s one team. They practice together and learn the same backing tracks. They will also join the halftime show, which will be played twice on each side of the grandstand.

Game head coach Colleen Meyers has it all down. He has been participating since the second Snapple Bowl in 1994, the first of which involved cheerleaders. (The annual game was canceled due to the pandemic the past two years.)

“Two years young ladies are unfortunately missing out,” Meyers said after Monday’s first practice. “I’m delighted to be back. We’re definitely going to be the Middlesex County team that everyone knows and loves and day one has been fantastic. I can’t wait to see what we achieve from day two to day six.

The four coaches set up nine different formations for a 2-minute, 30-second halftime show complete with jumping and jumping sequences. There are also 30 chants for sideline cheers, 10 for offense, 10 for defense and 10 at any time during the game.

The high skill level of cheerleaders makes teaching easier and friendships and chemistry develop quickly.

“It’s wonderful that they’re so used to learning so quickly,” said Meyers, who retired last summer after 28 years as Spotswood’s cheerleading coach. “These girls are already professionals by the time they graduate high school and are used to learning very quickly and adapting very quickly.”

During Monday’s first practice, Meyers called on four schools to sing. Piscataway, Metuchen, New Brunswick and Spotswood all contributed ideas and their own legwork and terminology.

Assistant coach Sara Yocum said cheerleaders from different programs clicked without clicking.

“I think they’re all in the same boat,” Metuchen head coach Yocum said. “They just graduated from high school. They’re excited to represent their town and there’s a little bit of nervousness because they’re not sure exactly what to expect, so I think it brings them all together and I would say the Middlesex County Cheerleading Ring is not too. , too big. Everyone knows each other either from games or competitions, so there are bound to be a lot of familiar faces.

Many of the cheerleaders winced in pain after their first jumps at Monday’s practice.

Meyers asked, “How long has it been?”

He replied, “Now get over it.”

Vanasilla’s Julia Leonhardt noted that after doing each new song five times, it was easy to understand.

“It seems like a nice fundraiser to be a part of and it feels really special for everyone involved,” she said. “I’m proud to be a part of it.”

Edison’s Rylie Abrams added that muscle memory kicks in.

“I don’t think I’ve cheered in a long time,” he said. “It was nice to have one last chance.

“I just love that you get to meet a lot of new people, and I feel like you have your own team, but everyone in the cheer community knows each other, especially at Middlesex.”

Meyers noted that several sisters have appeared in the game over the years and others have attended Middlesex high schools.

Other coaches in the game are Darlene Drum, former South River head coach and South Brunswick High School coach; Georgeann Larsen, South Plainfield’s cheerleading coach, and Yocum, who cheered under Larsen at South Plainfield.

Then there are people with relatives who cheered in the county like Vargas. Olivia joked that her sister was a little jealous that she got the chance to cheer in the bowl.

“He still hasn’t gotten over the fact that he couldn’t do it because he was obviously so excited,” Olivia said with a laugh, “but he’s happy for me because I can do it. It looks like I’ll be taking his place.” almost because he’s never had the chance. I’m just really excited. I can’t wait to do it.”

In previous years, the game pitted Middlesex County against Union County. Now everyone in Middlesex is a participant.

“I think it just creates this fantastic mentality that it’s a family event and our cheer family is not against each other,” Meyers said. “We’re working with each other on this common goal, which is to raise money for Marisa Tufaro. The Foundation. Cheerleaders usually get competitive the same way football teams do, and our goal was always to be the strongest team. We wanted to represent Middlesex County very well.

“One united Middlesex and united in a cause in honor of a beautiful young lady. You don’t get any better than that.”

Bellamy and Sons at the Marisa Rose Bowl

When/Where: July 21 North Brunswick High School, 7:00 p.m

Who/what? Recently graduated Middlesex County high school football players and cheerleaders will participate in an intra-county charity all-star game with all proceeds benefiting the Marisa Tufaro Foundation.

About the game: Formerly known as the Snapple Bowl and the Autoland Classic, the contest has raised $715,000 for charity since its inception in 1994.

Practice Schedule:  Practices will be held at North Brunswick High School from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. July and July 19 at 6:00 p.m. to 8 p.m., and July 18 at St. Joseph High School in Metuchen from 6 p.m. until 20:00. The July 20th introduction is TBD.

Game Tickets: Can be purchased for $10 on game night at the gate or at any practice.

About the Marisa Tufaro Foundation: Since its inception less than five years ago, the nonprofit organization has donated a quarter of a million dollars to help pediatric patients and underserved children throughout the greater Middlesex County area. The foundation has also donated thousands of toys, non-perishable food items, winter jackets, baby items and other items that it has not placed a monetary value on. A nonprofit organization has awarded $26,500 in academic scholarships to 38 Middlesex County high school seniors.

About Marisa Rose Tufaro: Marisa survived six open-heart surgeries and a heart transplant before succumbing to a rare form of cancer in 2017 after a valiant battle. He was only 13 years old. Despite more than two years of hospitalization and hundreds of doctors’ appointments, she lived a vibrant life that inspired.

Marisa Rose Bowl Banquet: Held at Manor of the Pines in Edison on July 20 at 6:00 p.m.

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