New Britain PAL Cheerleaders headed to Walt Disney World
The New Britain Police Athletic League Cheerleaders are headed to Walt Disney World in Florida for the National Cheerleading Championship from Dec. 6 – 13. Two boys and 21 girls, who are in the age range of 8 through 14, have been working hard since August 1 when they held their first practice.
The cheerleaders, who cheer for the football teams throughout the fall months, also compete in numerous competitions throughout the football season. Three teams – the Junior Pee-Wee, Midget and Junior Midgets – recently competed in the Southern Connecticut Pop Warner competition and the Connecticut State Pop Warner Competition. All three teams placed first at both competitions, making them eligible for the New England Regional Championship competition.
In that competition, the Junior Pee-Wee team placed first and are the New England Regional Champions while the Midget team placed second, making them the New England Regional Runner-Up. The Junior Midget team placed third, missing second place by just one point.
To qualify for the National Championship competition, a team must place first or second. That means the Junior Pee-Wee and the Midget teams are headed to Walt Disney World.
According to Justin Mitchell, the Cheer Coordinator for PAL and a coach on both teams, there will be teams from all over the nation competing. He and the other coaches understand that it’s not going to be easy but they have complete confidence in the girls and boys who will be competing, mainly because of all the hard work they have put in over the past several months.
“Many people do not realize how difficult and how hard cheerleaders work,” Mitchell said. “Cheerleading is no longer girls on the sideline with pom-poms cheering on a team. Although they still cheer at all football games, it is an extremely completive sport. These girls and boys have practiced for five hours a week for the past four months with the goal of reaching the New England Regional Championship.”
Mitchell noted that this journey hasn’t come without adversity. More specifically, one of their teams had to change their entire routine the night before one of their local competitions. Then, another injury occurred days before the New England Regional Competition.
“The night before our league competition, one of our cheerleaders dislocated and fractured her arm and the team worked really hard that night to fix the routine and they came in first the next day. Five days before they competed at the New England Regional Competition, the team had another injury and they pulled it together once again and came in second going up against the top teams in New England.”
This cohesiveness and persistent display of determination and hard work from the cheerleaders is just one of the reasons why Mitchell, along with others in the league and community, are doing everything they can to make this trip one that they’ll remember for the rest of their lives. To make that happen, they have lined up several fundraisers and are accepting donations to help defray the high costs of bringing a group this size to Florida.
Mitchell notes that at least $30,000 will need to be raised to send both teams. Last week, they held a pasta dinner and on Sunday, November 30, they’ll be holding a pancake breakfast at the New Britain Senior Center. In addition, the cheerleaders are shaking cans around the city on a daily basis.
The program is also accepting donations online through their ‘Go Fund Me’ account, located at www.gofundme.com/he34r0. If you wish to mail your donation instead, you can address it to the New Britain Police Department – Attention: Officer Barry Hertzler | 10 Chestnut Street | New Britain, CT 06051.
The coaches for the teams are Maria Mitchell with 25+ years of service, Justin Mitchell with 13 years of service, Jasmine Mireles and Aida Figueroa with three years of service, Grenaysha Mitchell and Nadira Coleman with two years of service and Kevin Silva with one year of service.
Note: The New Britain PAL football team, along with the New Britain Junior Hurricanes 7th grade football team, both won their respective New England Regional Championship games this past Sunday. They’ll be headed to Florida as well and we’ll highlight both teams in next week’s edition.