The Port Washington cheerleading team made it to Nassau County Championships at Wantagh High School in their first year of being recognized as a New York State division I small varsity competitive cheer team. With the help of coach Nataly Giannuzzi and a tumbling coach, the team of 20 girls placed sixth at the county championships.
“I’m extremely proud of this team for making it to counties on their first shot,” said Giannuzzi. “Overall our team grew from what we previously were. We added a lot of tumbling into our routine. We got a tumbling coach to do more difficult stunts, so we really worked very hard.”
The girls placed in three out of five competitions, becoming one of the six teams to make it to the counties. The Port cheer team placed second at the Cold Spring Harbor competition, first in the East Meadow competition at Clarke High School and second at the Bellmore JFK competition.
“It was a very interesting competition,” said Giannuzzi about counties. “Our main top flyer got punched in the nose during warmups and had a bloody nose. Three quarters of the way through the routine, one girl landed wrong and blew out her knee, but completed the routine like a champ. It was a pretty dramatic competition.”
Because the girls placed sixth at counties, they will not move on to state championships, but Giannuzzi said she will be holding captain tryouts in upcoming weeks and then begin fundraising for next year’s season.
Giannuzzi began coaching the team six years ago when the team was only a club sport, but has been constantly growing the program since. When the girls would perform routines at both the football and basketball halftimes, Giannuzzi would make sure the routines met competition standards.
“Yes, they are very excited,” said Giannuzzi, explaining how the team feels to finally compete. “My seniors were over the moon. Some of the captains have been captains for three years and have been working for the past two years to be on that level, so it was a huge accomplishment for them.”
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