Hopedale Cheer Heads to Districts Again

Christopher Tremblay, Staff Sports Writer
Issue Date: 
April, 2020
Article Body: 

Having captured the District 4 Sectionals las year the Hopedale Cheer team was looking to make it back to back titles, but Coach Amy Lombardi knew that it was not going to be easy. The Blue Raiders graduated three girls from last year’s team and three others didn’t return to the squad due to work commitments.
“I understood their situation,” the Hopedale Coach said. “It’s tough practicing five days a week, two hours a day while working and doing all your school work.”
With the vacancy of six girls from last year’s squad Hopedale had a small team of only 12 athletes this winter, six veterans and six brand new girls. In addition to being a relatively small team, the Blue Raiders were a rather young team as well lead by sophomore captains Angelina Lombardi and Caroline Gosselin.
“Even though were a really young team the girls worked well together and with the leadership of the veterans the new comers felt comfortable,” Lombardi said. “II knew that the season was going to difficult, but I also thought that we would be pretty close to the other teams.”
While other cheer teams in the area had already started competing Hopedale was still working out the kinks and getting the new athletes synched up to the Coach’s vision. When Hopedale first took the mats for a competition it was during the Dual Valley Conference qualifier and it was like the were continuing right where they left off last season and won the event.
Unlike last year when the Blue Raiders won the sectionals, the scoring rules had changed coming into this season. Instead of performing higher difficulty routines the judges were looking more to technique and perfection.
“Scoring was going to be based upon how exact and clean your routines were rather than those with tougher difficulty skills,’ the Coach said. “It makes a huge difference in how you prepare. We used to push ourselves to the limits doing those difficult stunts, now they want to see that perfect technique instead.”
Although the scoring was going in a different direction this season, it seemed to fall right in line with how Lombardi and JV Coach Dean Lombardi prepared their team for competitions. Hopedale always taught perfection first, so the girls could get to know their stunts before actually doing the difficult ones.
In addition to the co-captains Hopedale retuned sophomores Kiarra Ortla, Ashley MacDonald and Sage Garvin as well as eighth grader Sara Auger. MacDonald was a swing athlete between the varsity and junior varsity squads, while Auger was on the JV team, where she was able to take the newcomers under her wing and show them the ropes.
The only first year athletes to make the varsity squad on a fulltime basis was junior Alex McCall. Rookies swinging between varsity and JV were sophomore Angelina Kotopoulos and seventh grader Adrianna Pirela; while fulltime JV players were junior April Keene, sophomores Kara Stewardson and Olivia Shaw.
Heading into the Regionals once again, Hopedale knew they were good enough to be there, but they were also going up against some highly competitive cheer squads throughout the state. Although on the rise, Hopedale has only been a program for a few years now.
“We were beaten by better teams that’s all there is to it and it doesn’t bother me all that much,” Lombardi said. “Being that we are only 4 years in I felt that we couldn’t come close to the top teams, but we were competitive with the majority of the other teams.”
Having captured back-to-back Division 4 Sectional Titles, Hopedale is looking to push it to three in a row next season. The way the Blue Raiders have performed with this relatively young team that shouldn’t be too hard to accomplish. Who knows what these team will be able to do down the line once they’ve established themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the Cheering circuit.
“I am very excited about next year and looking forward to a third Sectionals Championship in a row,” Lombardi said. “I’m hoping that all the girls come back next season so that we can continue to build upon what we have accomplished over the past few years.”