Liam O'Toole also contributed to this article.
The Basketball Cheer team is jumping into the new season and is already off to a great start. The team currently consists of 18 girls, including two students in the Pace program.
Coach Melanie Philbrook shared that the team’s initial goal was to “learn 50 cheers” before the first home game, but that the team was able to surpass that goal and learn “60 cheers, a halftime routine, and seven different time out routines.”
In addition to learning cheers, the team was required to make posters for each player on the Varsity Basketball team, as well as the coaches. On top of that, the team “decorate[d] all the senior players lockers with a basketball and senior captain Nikki Blue's locker with a megaphone to wish them luck during the season.“
Alongside Blue is sophomore captain Mackenzie Smith, who is currently in her third season cheering. Smith was encouraged to cheer by her family and friends, and cites her nine years of dance experience as an influence, saying that she “wanted to carry those skills into high school.”
Smith says that she is “incredibly grateful and honored to be captain of such an amazing group of ladies,” and is looking forward to being “supportive and helpful” as she helps to “lead the team in a positive direction.” Some of her hopes for the season include “[continuing] to incorporate more difficult stunts and skills into [the] performances at the games and maybe even [competing].”
Philbrook stated that “the Basketball Cheerleaders have not competed in many years,” but they are “trying to see if [they can] this season” if there are no conflicts with the MSAA competitive schedule. For now, the girls are “working hard to look good at the games and get the crowd involved.” The team is also busy preparing for Senior Night, which will take place on February 20th, at the last home game of the season.
The team is starting this season focused on improving and working towards their goals, including some not related to their performances.
Recently, the team was encouraged to “do something for the less fortunate in their city,” and, according to Philbrook, they chose to collect donations for the Malden Warming Center. This feat left Philbrook feeling “extremely proud of [the team]” as they were able to collect “over 25 bags filled with [donations].” Philbrook and the rest of the team are “look[ing] forward to continuing to serve the community for years to come.”
The cheerleaders are hard at work and are looking to have an “extremely fun season.” Philbrook concluded that the team is “proud to be from the Den” and the girls are excited for what this upcoming season has to offer.