New Year, New Cheer

Isabella Jiang, Editor-in-Chief

Every year, under new talent and leadership — seniors Einav Meir, Rayveliss Ulrick, and Jada Urbaez serve as 2019 co-captains — the cheer routine reaches another level of creativity and pizzazz. Behind Friday were countless hours of hard work — according to Urbaez, over the summer, whenever possible, she, Ulrick, and Meir met up to perfect every “dance and stunt sequence, and [to decide on] appropriate spots for everyone on the team.” 

Where the audience saw an effortlessly graceful performance in Friday’s pep rally, the cheer team saw hours of brainstorming, choreography work, and training come to fruition.

And success is nothing new to Cresskill’s cheer program. Every year, the varsity team sweeps the pre-season home camp contest with the National Cheerleaders Association. This summer was no different: collectively, in June, the cheerleaders amassed a staggering array of awards, including the Herkie Team Award, Stunt S.A.F.E. Award, Technical Excellence Award for Dance, National Championship Bid to the NCA Senior & Junior High School Championship, and NFHS Squad Credentialing Certificate. 

NCA All-American Nominees include seniors Einav Meir, Hannah Stern, and Jada Urbaez; juniors Ashley Kim and Nikki Sabet; sophomores Yarden Blum and Keyla Hiciano; and freshmen Abigail Green, Isabella Portalatin, Noga Tesler, Danna Weissy, and Mackenzie Wolfer. Keyla Hiciano, Nikki Sabet, and Jada Urbaez were recognized as NCA All-American Winners.

At the pep rally, we were treated to two separate performances interspersed between fall sports team introductions: a cheer routine, deployed during games to boost morale, and a dance routine, designed primarily for use in cheer competitions.

Urbaez details the creative process behind the crafting the routines: “It is not as easy as it may seem,” she admits. “We listen to our song and we create an image of what we want to look like while performing.”

Longtime cheer coach Christine De Palo provided details on the cheer routine. It starts with a regular cheer, moves into a pyramid formation consisting of a shoulder sit, two preps, and one extension in the back.

The cheer dance allows for a lot more dynamic — it’s choreographed to Jason Derulo’s “Swalla”, a dizzying, funky tune that provides an appropriate backdrop for the equally spunky routine. The dance opens with a ‘diamond-shape’ stunt, as flyers Ashley Kim, Einav Meir, Nicole Moallen, and Noga Tesler hold an impossibly lengthy split in the air. This transitions into a show-n-go and then into an elaborate barrel roll, followed closely by a second stunt sequence, in which Ashley Kim, Einav Meir and Nicole Moallen perform three basket tosses (in which they, from a set position, are thrown high up into the air). The number concludes with a flourish — center Ashley Kim and, on either side of her, Einav Meir and Nicole Moallen performing heel stretches, form a final pyramid.

For good reason, Urbaez feels that this year holds immense promise. 

“A lot about this team is very exciting and different,” she said. “We are exploring different stunts to perform and we are all very excited to show everyone what we have been working on.”