to cheer about
Butler squad still finding national success
Eagle Sports Editor
BUTLER TWP — Competitive cheerleading does more than get in your blood.
It becomes your life.
"I talk about it 24-7," Karam said. "People probably get sick of hearing about it, but it's all I do."
The competitive cheerleading season lasts 10 months a year. After the Universal Cheerleader Association Nationals in
Then it's time to prepare for next year.
"You put in 10 months of time, all for 2 hours and 30 minutes on stage at nationals," Sub said. "That does sound kind of crazy, but it's worth it.
"It's the whole journey, practicing hard every day for each other. We become like a family and we meet so many people."
Even during the summer, Butler's competitive cheerleaders practice three days a week, three hours at a time.
"It takes a total commitment to do this," coach Lindsay Hasychak said. "It really does become your life. During basketball season, these girls are together six days a week.
"But they love every second of it. During the two months they're off, the girls tell me they're bored. They can't wait to get back at it."
Butler's program has grown in recent years. In 2007 and 2008, it competed in the small varsity division (12 members) in Florida. Last year, it bumped up to the medium division (16 members). This year, the Tornado competed in the 20-member large varsity division.
"We kept 25 from tryouts, including five alternates," Hasychak said. "Not every cheerleader tries out for the competition squad. All of the girls recognize the special, committed athletes we're looking for.
"The large varsity division is more difficult, but we didn't want to punish qualified girls because we didn't have enough room. If we've got the athletes, we're going to use them."
Butler placed seventh in large varsity at UCA Nationals this year. The Tornado placed fifth in medium varsity in 2009, 15th and seventh, respectively, in small varsity in 2008 and 2007.
Each year, Butler had to work through three rounds of competition just to get to the finals.
"Everyone wants to win and that's what pushes you," Slomers said. "I love performing in front of a crowd. That's what keeps me going. It's an adrenaline rush."
Cheerleading might be their life, but these girls find time to study. The average grade-point average of the team's 10 seniors is 3.8.
Karam carries a 4.2 and plans to major in sports broadcasting at Kent State. Slomers has a 3.9 and expects to major in biology at Pitt. Sub carries a 3.4 and will attend Slippery Rock University. Kosar is headed to Kent State.
All four plan to try out for cheerleading in college. They're not alone in that regard.
Adaire Robinson is headed to Penn State, Jeralyn Smith to Pitt, Rebecca Cratty to Mercyhurst, Kayla Cowoski to Slippery Rock. They all hope to cheerlead in college as well.
"I can't imagine not doing it," Sub said. "My mom used to coach it. When I was 6, the girls adopted me as their mascot. I've been getting tossed in the air ever since."
Sub plans to be part of the sport for a very long time.
"I'm hoping to become a staff member of UCA down the road," she said.
The academic success comes from learning time management at a young age.
"The sport is structured because it is year-round," Hasychak said. "The athletes are forced to prioritize things."
"No matter what, school always comes first," Slomers said. "No matter how late we practiced, there was always homework time."
Karam has been in cheerleading since third grade. She quickly learned how to budget her time.
"I'm used to pushing myself and maximizing my day," she said.
COMPETITIVE CHEER ROSTER
Head Coach: Lindsay Hasychak
Assistants: Nicole Nea, Shawna Gerhart, Nicole Scott
Seniors: Tri-captains Megan Kosar, Alisha Slomers and Kellie Sub; Kayla Cowoski, Rebecca Cratty, Brianna Harvey, Kristin Karam, Adaire Robinson, Maura Shaffer, Jeralyn Smith
Juniors: Kayla Conklin, Rebekah DiMartino, Kylie Geagan, Kiley Ruffaner, Stacy Scott, Katie Stone
Sophomores: Madison Archer, Elena Bollinger, Jordan Hinkle, Alison Thompson
Freshmen: Paige Allen, Kennedy Evans, Makenna Harvey, Jenna Hinkle, Madelyn Smith