West Orange Cheer Team Wins 8th Best in the Nation

A winning tradition that WOHS Cheerleading withholds with every competition.


Courtesy of TapIntoWestOrange

Samantha Nunez, In Our School / In Our Town Editor

The WOHS cheerleading team has done a marvelous job this season with their success. The girls have worked there hardest to get where they are at right now. Head Coach,Taylor Calixto, is motivated by these girls to teach them. Calixto, who has been teaching for 4 years but has been doing cheerleading since she was 5 years old. She has seen the girls improve time after time throughout this year. 

The cheerleading season starts in August and one of the first things that the girls usually do is go and compete at the UCA Summer Camp. The Freshmen, Junior Varsity and Varsity teams learn new skills that helped them this season. They practice a variety of skills combined like Jumps, Stunts, Pyramids, Cheer & Dance. 

Throughout this season, the girls have accomplished many things like winning the majority of their competitions, cheering sidelines at Rutgers University, participating in SEC Cheer For a Cure Competition, and qualify for UCA Nationals. Gabriella Charles, Myah Sellers, Vanessa Cardona and Caroline Campanella have all qualified for UCA All American.

The girls practice for 2 hours everyday after school to make sure they perfect their routines. By making sure they did their hardest, they were able to qualify for nationals. Calixto says, “I was so proud of them. I think my favorite part of that day was seeing the pure happiness on these girls faces. Only 4 of them had ever received a bid to nationals, so to look around and see 20 kids so excited and so emotional, it was a humbling moment.”

Coach Calixto makes sure that all her girls are their best selves and help them boost their confidence. Cheerleading has made a difference in all of the girls’ lives. “To keep it short I honestly couldn’t imagine my life without cheerleading. It gives me a purpose. I wouldn’t want to spend everyday doing anything else. Cheer has become a part of my identity. Many people don’t know all of the time and dedication we put into perfecting a routine. We’re more than just crowd leaders, we are ambassadors and performers. We as a team have to defend our own titles at the same time as supporting other teams. All things considered, cheerleading is much more than a sport, it is my life, cheer is a distraction where I can be myself and shine like nowhere else”, says Gabirella Charles. 

“Cheerleading is more than a sport. Us athletes put our all into achieving our goals which include hitting a perfect routine, taking home the 1st place trophies at competitions, and winning in Disney World at UCA Nationals. Cheerleading has become our lives. We practice almost every single day, and pour our hearts on the mat. These girls are more than teammates, they are family, and we are always there for each other and want the best for everyone on the team. I wouldn’t be who I am today without cheerleading and I owe it all to my  teammates, coaches and the sports itself who make a better person everyday”, says Olivia Petrucci.

The girls headed to UCA Nationals on February 6, 2020 and won 8th in the nation in the Large Non Tumbling Division. Just last weekend the girls also competed in a state wide competition, landing in 3rd place!