The Warwick Police Athletic League peewee cheerleading team continued to impress this season, taking 2nd place at the Pop Warner Cheerleading regional tournament and punching their ticket to the national competition at Disney in Florida next month.
PAL coach Jessica Izzo was proud of her club, and feels that this season has been its best since the girls began cheering together at 5 years old.
“I’ve had this particular team of girls for a very long time. They’ve been cheering with me and their coaches since they were little. I’ve told them all along that this has been there best year so far, they’ve worked really hard and now that they’re older that have taken it more seriously … they wanted it,” said Izzo.
It has not always been easy for the team this season, though. Between limited spaces to practice, as well as a new crop of girls to implement into the routine, the Lady Pats had to put their best foot forward throughout the season.
“We had four girls out of the 15 that were brand new and had no cheering experience. It was also a massive struggle finding a place to practice. With some of the stuff going on at the schools we had nowhere to go but (Warwick) Mayor (Joseph) Solomon allowed us to use the Army reserve building. It was scary for a while,” said Izzo.
However, Izzo believes that team chemistry and determination has helped the girls push through the adversity and rise to the occasion when its mattered most.
“They get along well. They all go to school together and have forged some new friendships together. This past week when we practiced I think they were still riding their high. They were goofy, happy, excited, bouncing around. When we practice though, they’re all there and they’re all business, they know what they’re doing,” said Izzo, who also complimented some of the younger girls on the roster. “We actually have two girls that are 9 years old and have been kind of grandfathered onto the team, but most of the girls are 11 or 12. The older ones are really good with the younger ones, the younger ones have to work harder but they keep up, they’ve earned a spot on this team.”
The 2018 team is the first PAL program to reach the national stage since the 2015 squad. Izzo was excited to see this team write its own chapter in the PAL history books, and was also happy to share the spotlight with the 12U football team that advanced all the way to the regional final against Hamden, CT.
“I cried like a baby. I have really high expectations of them and they know it, no matter how well they do it is very rare that they get compliments out of me. So when they saw me cry they probably thought I was dying, I was super proud of them and super happy for them,” said Izzo. “It’s huge for the program. It’s huge for us, on top of it the boys have been going just as far and are undefeated. It’s the same age which is really cool, so these are the same boys that these girls have been cheering for.”
PAL will be heading to Florida in early December, with competition starting on Dec. 4th.