By Julie Huss
---- — DERRY — It’s a well-oiled machine of spirit and teamwork.
The Pinkerton Academy varsity spirit squad continues to make its mark on competitive cheerleading. It just won its 15th state title, the sixth in a row.
The team took the top spot at the Division I Spirit Championships at Southern New Hampshire University.
This was also the 15th state title win for longtime coach Michelle McCarty. The team also has captured the last five New England titles.
“We earned the highest raw score at a state cheerleading competition tournament that New Hampshire has ever given out — 211 points,” she said.
McCarty said she told her 22-member team prior to the competition that they might go far.
“I told them they have the potential to earn the highest score we have ever earned as a team,” she said. “They just hung on every correction and every word we had to say to improve as a team.”
McCarty said the team works hard.
Practices are held two hours a day, five or six days a week.
Daily workouts include gymnastics training, running, cardio sessions and a lot of body weightlifting.
“Our routines are three minutes long and require our athletes to be in top mental and physical condition,” McCarty said.
Her four seniors on the squad — Tom McCarthy, Jordan Toney, Jordan Daigle and Julie Venglass — all hope to continue their cheering at the college level.
“They are the most amazing kids,” McCarty said.
The younger team members also do great things when the competitive spirit hits.
“They function as a family, not just as a team,” McCarty said. “They love and respect one another, and really encourage each other on and off the mat.”
She said Pinkerton’s spirit squad continues to be popular with a record number of young athletes trying out for the team this season.
Not only does the team take competition very seriously, the athletes are committed to being on the sidelines for the school’s sports teams during the year.
“The first thing is to represent the school and cheer on the teams we represent,” McCarty said. “Secondly, we cheer for ourselves. We are ambassadors for Pinkerton.”
McCarty said the squad shows true leadership and earned every point it scored at the recent competitions. She said she is proud of what the spirit squad represents.
“It was such a wonderful experience to work with the team this season,” she said.