By Hayley Tafuro
DANBURY—When you think football, it’s hard not to also think of cheerleading, the classic counterpart to the tradition of the game. Cheerleaders bring the spirit and the motivation to unite everybody in the stadium to root for their favorite team.
Danbury High School has this tradition down pat, and the girls have already started training for the upcoming fall season.
According to coach Joanne Tatarzycki, the coaches picked the team in May and started immediately after with a stunt clinic at North Haven High School and consistent trips to the weight room and the track to get its preseason going.
“It’s extremely important, because the preseason builds their strength and we also run so it builds cardio,” Tatarzycki said. “It helps us be strong enough to perform the material that we’re going to be given stunt-wise, and really builds up their strength in general as well as decreases injuries.”
Captains Madison Pues and Trinh Tran outlined some of the specific training exercises that the team does every Tuesday and Thursday, including bench presses, squats and lifting routines in the weight room, as well as a mile-run outside on the track and practice on the field.
“I think it’s all really important because we gain muscle and that’s what helps us stick our stunts. In the end, it’s definitely worth it,” Tran said.
Last Saturday marked the start of the fall season for the defending state champions, coinciding with the first day of contact for the football team, when they will fall into their normal routine of practice five days a week and appearing at every home and away game.
“Our varsity team is a lot because we do travel with the football team to away games and the home games, and we have our own schedule with practices and tumbling in Norwalk,” Tran said.
“You barely get breaks to rest your body,” Pues added. “You have to push yourself, and there are always moments where you’re thinking you can’t do this, but if we want to win and be on top of this football game, we have to push through.”
During the season, the cheerleaders work alongside the team and together with the band and the crowd to create the best atmosphere possible during games. One of Danbury’s most unique traditions is “Hatters Hooters,” a group of students who are dedicated to going to every home and away game donned with school colors, face paint, pom-poms and just about everything else you could think of to pump up the Danbury crowd.
“We get involved with them and do cheers and chants with them, Pues said. “They motivate us and we motivate them. That gets the crowd involved and gets people saying ‘Wow, that’s a lot of fun,’ and we all get riled up together.”
“We are definitely there to boost the spirit of the crowd,” Tatarzycki said. “We perform to the crowd, we throw things into the crowd, we try to get them t-shirts and footballs as well as just being there to support the team on the field. We cheer for them when a big play is made, and we work closely with the band as far as band chants and the school song. We really try to motivate and get the crowd into the game and we just love it.”
The team will also take time to prepare for basketball and competition seasons, when they hope to take home an FCIAC and state championship as they have done in the past. Both Pues and Tran agree that these are their main plans, however their focuses right now are to get a good start going in the fall on the sidelines of the football field.
“Our goals are to be prepared for the games with our routines and our sidelines, and one of our main goals is to increase the spirit in the school with the entire student body participating,” Tatarzycki said.
This will happen through a pep rally at Danbury, Senior Fest and various other activities throughout the season. Despite the busy schedule and the overtime that the team has to put in, the members love every second of being paired with their school’s football program.
“Although it’s a lot, it’s so much fun to go with the football team and cheer for them,” Pues said. “We enjoy ourselves so much. We become almost like a family with the boys and we become so close. It’s really cool to see the bond that we have between the cheerleaders and the football team.”