Winthrop High School cheerleading coach Rachel Mustone had a good feeling about this year’s seniors as far back as 2009 when she coached them at the youth level.
“When I had these girls on my squad in eighth grade I knew they had an edge and were really talented,” said Mustone. “It takes a little while to build a program but I knew these girls and our underclassmen could accomplish something special.”
Mustone’s prognostication proved to be right on the money. The WHS 2013 squad, led by a talented group of seniors, has qualified for the Universal Cheerleading Association’s National High School Cheerleading Championships to be held in February at Disney World in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.
The Winthrop squad earned its ticket to the Nationals by surpassing the qualifying score at the State Championships at Wachusett Regional High School in Holden. Winthrop recorded its highest score in school history to take fifth place overall in its division and receive its first-ever berth in the Nationals.
Fifteen Winthrop High student-athletes, three alternates, and two other cheerleaders (who are sidelined by injuries) will be making the trip to Florida for the competition.
Seniors Alana Farmer, Kelly Swanson, and Diandra Gillis, who began their cheerleading careers a decade ago in the Winthrop Youth Football program, talked about the significance of the squad’s achievement.
“Nationals has been a dream of mine for I can’t remember how long and now I get to say I’m living my dream with the most amazing team and most supportive coaches any cheerleader could want,” said Farmer.
“Going to Nationals is a perfect way to spend my senior year,” said Swanson. “I am so happy I get to continue this season with the girls and coaches I love. I can now say what was once a dream is now a reality.”
Said Gillis, “Making it to Nationals makes me feel proud of myself and my team for pushing through this season to reach our goal and make history. We could not have done anything without the support of our coaches.”
Winthrop High football coach Sean Driscoll said the squad is deserving of the high honor of advancing to the Nnationals.
“I’ve seen them perform their routines and they’re an outstanding squad,” said Driscoll. “I know their goal was to qualify for the nationals and it’s a time to celebrate their achievement. My team and my staff supported them throughout the year. We’re very happy that they’ll be competing for a national championship in Florida. They will represent our town well.”
Mustone, 23, is in her fourth season as the Winthrop head coach. She is a former regional All-Star cheerleader, Winthrop High School cheerleading captain and Salem State University cheerleader. Stephanie Bono, who captained the WHS squad with Mustone, is the assistant coach.
Interestingly coach Mustone chose not to select captains of such a multi-talented and athletic squad.
“They’re all really great leaders and they’ve all grown up together and they all have something special that they added together,” said Mustone. “Once they figured out how to work together, it was like magic. They were all like family and they were able to understand each other’s traits and who was strong in one area and another and there was no jealousy. It was the best decision that I’ve ever made and as the months went on, they saw that as well.”
Superintendent of Schools John Macero saluted the cheerleaders’ success with a congratulatory announcement at the Town Council meeting Tuesday night. The Winthrop School Committee will honor the squad at its meeting on Dec. 9.