Cheerleading: Waterville/Messalonskee co-op finds its footing

Jade Eastman, a second-year student at Messalonskee High School, knows what will come when she wears the purple and white color of Waterville Senior High School.

“We may not be a match for players wearing Messo jerseys,” said Eastman. “We definitely get weird looks (sometimes).”

Likewise, Lily Ruane, a senior from Waterville, says she can refer when she wears the red, white, and blue colors of Messalonskee High.

“When they wear the colors of the Messalonskee in Waterville, classmates look at them quite strange,” Ruane said.

This is life in a unique cheerleading collaboration program between the rival schools of Messalonskee and Waterville.

The new doping cooperative – one in five in the state – came to fruition thanks to trainer Annie Dobus, who suggested a merger last year after both programs struggled with attendance.

Dobos coached both programs in Waterville and Messalonskee last year.

“We started last winter,” she said. “Coming out of the pandemic, the programs have fought, I trained both of them last fall. Last year, we managed to come up with a cooperation. This summer, I sat down with (Waterville Athletic director Heidi Bernier and Messalonskee Athletic director Chadem Foye) and said, “Hey, instead of training two struggling programs, we just become one (program) and we are stronger together. We will be rooting for both (schools), we will be rooting for all matches. “

Waterville / Messalonskee is the only supporting cooperative in the state with A and B schools.

“I think they were a bit hesitant at first, especially in the fall season,” Dobos continued. “Fall cheering is the pride of the school, the spirit of the school. I would even say a bit territorial. True, they are in different classes, so there is no (play against each other). It’s really about children, sports and giving them opportunities. They both said yes in the end. Chad Foye and Heidi Bernier are amazing.

Destiny Baker in the foreground and Hannah King in the center practice routine with the Waterville / Messalonskee cheering team on September 29 in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentinel

Two other collaborative programs – Gardiner / Hall-Dale and Monmouth / Winthrop – are located in central Maine. Houlton / Greater Houlton Christian and Mattanawcook / Penobscot are other state cooperatives.

“It was amazing,” said Eastman. “We didn’t have big teams in the past, so joining (teams) was an obvious choice. At first, the schools hesitated about this. But now that they’ve seen how far we’ve come and how well the schools connect, it was really great. “

“He has definitely developed both Waterville and (Messalonskee) programs, which is really good,” added Jocelyn Poulliot, Messalonskee junior.

The merger had its challenges given that Messalonskee and Waterville are enjoying healthy competition. In addition, it took some time to plan the schedule around the events at the two schools as well.

“We weren’t sure how the kids would react to it,” said Dobos. “(In the beginning) it was strange, very strange. But when they figured they were here for the sport, they didn’t mind. And when you see them exercise, you can’t tell which school they go to. They are only one team and they are athletes in their sport.

“It was pretty cool to find out that we would be rooting for the two soccer teams,” added Poulliot. “But of course it was different, having two separate cheers.”

The team was able to move through the football season as Messalonskee usually plays Friday nights while Waterville mostly plays Saturday afternoons.

“We are cheering for all home games (Messalonskee) and all home games in Waterville, as well as all cheering teams,” said Dobos. “It was really nice because (Messalonskee) has Friday games and Waterville has Saturday games. We had one Friday game against Waterville to go home, but it turned out Messo was gone this week.

“It’s difficult,” added Dobos. “There are two games where they play Friday night and then Saturday one after the other … Usually in the week before the game we try to (practice) in (game) place, this way it’s not so awkward to shout” Eagles “or” Red , white and blue “in Waterville.”

The Messalonskee / Waterville co-op team stands with their hands on their hearts during the national anthem ahead of the Messalonskee football game on September 18 against Gardiner in Oakland. Joe Phelan / Kennebec Journal

Cheerleaders from both schools will wear the team colors Waterville (purple) or Messalonskee (red, white and blue) on match days.

This can lead to a color clash

“But we get a lot of support,” added Poulliot. “Lots of teachers, lots of students are asking questions and asking, and they’re really excited about this program.”

“But when they come onto the pitch, it all vanishes,” added Waterville senior Malaki Baker. “I don’t think (people) even know who’s from which school. They support us anyway.

By combining these two programs, Waterville / Messalonskee will advance to Grade A during the winter season, competing with some of the best doping programs in the state. But the group is looking forward to the challenge.

The Waterville / Messalonskee cheering team practices on September 29 in Waterville. Michael G. Seamans / Morning Sentinel

“I’m excited but also a little nervous because it’s a little intimidating,” Ruane said.

“We have a lot of new people this year, so we prepared them not to be different because winter and fall could be different,” said Eastman. “We try not to throw them into deep water. But it’s still a bit scary because there are a few big teams (A-class) ”.

Dobos said she was encouraged by the development of the program and was looking forward to the A-class competition.

“We have to get up, which is fine,” said Dobos. – I think it will be another year of construction. (For the fall season) they blew me out of the water.

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