Dedication pays off for Thomas Jefferson competitive spirit team

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Friday, February 7, 2020 | 6:54 PM


Dedication and determination are just two of the traits that drive the West Jefferson Hills School District cheer program.

Cheer season begins following tryouts in June. Practices generally last two hours, and most of the girls spend additional hours in private lessons, open gyms and camps.

“These girls also attend band camp, choreography camp and a UCA credentialing camp in the summer,” coach Kim Stadelman said.

After competing at WPIAL and state events, Thomas Jefferson’s competitive spirit cheer squad ended its season at the national finals.

Both the TJ varsity and junior high teams qualified for the National High School Cheerleading Championship on Feb. 7-9 at Walt Disney World in Orlando, Fla.

“Going to the NHSCC in Orlando is an experience like no other,” Stadelman said. “You are competing at an elite level. We have very high expectations for all of our girls. Our goal is to have our best performance yet and be able to enjoy the entire experience.

“We are very excited to see how the girls want to push themselves to finish the season.”

There are 27 girls in the TJ varsity cheer program including seven seniors — Katie Biddle, Matalyn Howley, Grace Konick, Mia Maddas, Jadyn Reinhart, Alyssa Volomino, Baily Weisbrod — and four juniors — Ana Barrickman, Alayna Kihn, Nevada Kraus and Payton Payton.

Reinhart is team captain with Konick and Barrickman serving as co-captains.

“I’m super proud of the team and the improvements we’ve made throughout the season,” Reinhart said. “I was thrilled to qualify for nationals.”

Reinhart has been a cheerleader since she was 6, starting with youth cheer and continuing through high school. She plans to continue cheering in college.

She has a 4.0 GPA and is involved in the National Honor Society, student council, TJ vs. Cancer, Big Jag Little Cub and the Interact Club.

“As a cheerleader, I enjoy the community support as well as the school spirit the most,” Reinhart said. “It’s so much fun to cheer in an environment like TJ. The new building makes going to school fun. It’s such a positive learning environment, and I especially love practicing in the brand new auxiliary gym.”

The sophomore class in the Jaguars’ cheer program is represented by Bella Bertini, Madison Lear, Sarah Petrovich, Jaylin Taubes, Kylie Taubes and Miranda Ward.

And there are 10 freshman team members: Mikala Capane, Jadyn Davis, Sabrina Everley, Angelina Gowaty, Mia Howley, Kennedi Kazimer, Ashley Lieberum, Olivia Majetic, Lily Pierce and Alaina Smith.

TJ’s large varsity mat team landed its bid to the national finals with a first-place showing at the Miami Valley regional competition in Centerville, Ohio. The TJ girls also placed third in the game day category.

Additionally, both the varsity and junior high teams finished first at the South Hills Showdown in Bethel Park.

“Since then, we have had multiple injuries and other obstacles to overcome,” Stadelman said.

The Jaguars placed fifth in the medium varsity division at the WPIAL championships and corralled 11th place at the PIAA finals.

“We did not have our best performance at WPIALs,” Stadelman said. “(At) the PIAA tournament, we knew we had to have our best performance to even place. The medium varsity division is the most competitive division at states.”

The TJ cheer program is a family affair this year. Stadelman is in her first year as head coach and is assisted by her daughters, Brianne Stadelman and Kelsie Stadelman. Kelsie also coaches the junior high team.

“I have been involved in the cheer industry for over 12 years,” said Stadelman, TJ’s rookie head coach. “I also have a dance and tumbling/gymnastic background. Both of my daughters graduated from TJ and cheered for TJ. Brianne and Kelsie have All-Star Cheer experience, as well as college-level cheer experience.

“We also work with (volunteer coach) Taylor Stauffer. We are enjoying working together and hoping to see growth in the cheer program in Jefferson Hills.”

There are two sets of sisters on the varsity unit, Matalyn and Mia Howley, and twins Jaylin and Kylie Taubes.

The TJ cheerleaders not only represent the district by demonstrating school spirit at football and basketball games, they also perform at community days, hold youth camps and compete at regional events.

Both the varsity and junior high squads have worked on more difficult tumbling and stunts this year. The cheer portion of their routines has been choreographed for crowd effectiveness and has high energy highlighted with facial expressions and voice projections.

The varsity cheer season ends after the winter basketball season.

TJ’s junior high team received its bid to nationals at the UCA Allegheny regional competition held at Slippery Rock.

The TJ girls took first place in the large junior high category.

Team members include eighth graders Laney Auman, Corrin Budday, Julie Evanchak, Kendall Laboon, Sophia Laux, Maya Milani, Holly Neville, Isabelle Richter, Isabella Salmon and Grace Vogtsberger.

Auman is team captain. Budday and Evanchak are co-captains.

The seventh graders consist of Cloe Blank, Natalie Borneman, Celena Cooke, Madelyn Ellis, Kendal Fernandes, Ashlee Kazimer, Isabella Kear, Nadia Stella, Jasmyne Trainer and Emily Withers. Ashlee and Kennedi Kazimer are sisters.

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