Andover Golden Warriors Cheerleading '07

Andover Cheerleaders ready to compete

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Wednesday, October, 03 By Crystal Bozek
Staff writer

Andover High School's varsity cheerleaders say they've come a long way in the past few years.

And now, armed with new uniforms, cheer signs and loads of talent and dedication, they hope to show the rest of the Merrimack Valley that they're not just short skirts and pom poms.

Maybe they'll even make it to state competition this year.

"We've gotten much more competitive over the last few years," Coach Karen Clark said. "They're tumbling has improved, their flexibility. They're much more comfortable in the air. ... They're just more dedicated."

The team is made up of 25 girls |16 of them upperclassmen | and know about 40 cheer routines and some dances for competition.

They have three squads for the football, basketball and hockey teams, with some of the girls cheering for all three, and others playing other sports once football season is over.

Seniors Marilyn Fontaine, Kathryn Sullivan and Jackie Stackhouse are team captains.

Sullivan said their biggest challenge has been gaining the respect of their classmates. That and fund-raising $9,500 for the uniforms.

"People think, oh, they're just cheerleaders. But we're athletes. ... Most people have never held a body over their heads," said Sullivan, 17, who has also been a gymnast. "This isn't just jumping up and down."

Coach Clark only sees the team getting better.

"We had more than 50 girls try out for the fall squad," she said. "Girls are really interested."

Their challenge to their classmates: Come to the competitions, root them on.

They'll compete in league competition in the beginning of November.

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