The Pilgrim cheerleading team recently took home its first state championship in program history, winning the large school division and topping second-place finisher North Providence.
The Lady Pats made it to the state meet last year, but came up short despite being the favorite to take home the top prize. Last year’s loss helped motivate the cheerleaders and lead them to the best season in school history.
“It’s been a long time coming. We had a prefect routine last year and we were in first with it all year … but at states it was just a judges’ decision. We had a perfect routine and lost by very few points … the judges just didn’t go with us. The team was devastated, we were let down. The team wanted to be state champs last year so the girls this year worked really hard and never clocked out. They really kicked it in gear and took first so we were really happy,” said Pilgrim coach Courtney DeSousa.
The Pats also had to deal with significant roster turnover this season, graduating seven seniors from last year’s group. Although DeSousa saw potential early on, she and her assistants were unsure of the heights that this year’s unit would be able to reach.
“I was surprised because after losing seven seniors and seeing what we had at tryouts, we figured it would be a rebuilding year. They really pulled it together, they have the skills and they’re one of the most talented groups of girls that I have ever coached. They are the strongest group of kids that I have ever coached. They had the determination and the skills,” said DeSousa, who also credited her upperclassmen for their leadership. “They fought hard. We had a younger team this year after graduating seven seniors, we only had five girls that cheered on the team last year. But those five upperclassmen really pushed the younger kids to realize what it means to win that state championship and how it felt to come up short last year, we didn’t want to have that feeling again. Those leaders just pushed those girls hard every day, they made sure that every piece to the routine was perfect, our captains really kept the younger kids going.”
Pilgrim will now flip the page to 2019-20, and hopes to have some momentum with its strong finish. The Pats later competed at the regional meet at Worcester State University in Worcester MA, where they would take home a fourth-place finish.
“I think next year they will be in a pretty good place,” said DeSousa. “I am hoping that we will have all of the girls come back. What was special about this year was that not only were we divisional champs but we were also runner up in the entire state behind West Warwick. We beat all the other co-ed teams as well as all the girls only teams. This should set us up well.” STATE CHAMPS: Here is the 2018-19 Pilgrim State Champion cheerleading team. From top left to right: Natalia Ventura, Jalyn Wellington, Trinity Volpe, Madison Hemond, Olivia Nardolillo, Mia Vigeant, Carissa Koop. Bottom left to right: Isabella Tuirok, Alyssa Giguere (captain), Alyssa Gould, Damia Branca (captain), Anna DeMenezes, Aliyah Medeiros.