Kate O’Neil: Pushing the Limits

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Photo Courtesy of Victor O'Neil

O’Neil cheers the Patriots on at a home football game.

Lauren Snyder, Sentry Staff Reporter

Since her freshman year, senior Kate O’Neil has been a crucial member of the cheer team.  She first began cheering because she was inspired by her older sister, Nora, who is a former member of the school’s team and 2013 graduate. As a tri-captain, O’Neil has helped lead the team to the 2014 regional championships.

Q: How has the cheer team changed since you first joined?

A: It has changed dramatically. For my first few years of cheer, we weren’t the best. Last year we improved and this year motivation took us to new levels. We went to regionals which is the farthest the cheer team has ever gone. So I think that it was the drive that really pushed us to the edge and gave us the places that we deserved this year.

Q: How long have you been a cheer captain?

A: I was named captain in the May of last year. Our coaches choose captains and I am one of the three that were chosen. Captains are chosen on attitude and leadership skills, not specifically skill as a cheer leader.

Q: What are some of the responsibilities that you and the other cheer captains have?

A: Our responsibilities are to basically motivate the team. We set spirit days and make sure people know what to wear. We run messages for the coaches, call out cheers at the football games and other things. Often times, we are the extra set of eyes and are able to step in if someone is struggling.

Q: How has cheer influenced your life?

A: It has definitely impacted my life in these last four years. I’m now able to look at the bigger picture and not judge a book by its cover. Cheer has helped me look past someone’s imperfects and learn to work as a team. I have made friends that I will have for the rest of my life.

Q: What was going to regionals like for the team?

A: It was crazy. We had wanted to go so badly. It was an incredible experience when the announcer said that we were moving on. The entire team started crying and we were all shaking and holding hands.

Q: How does it feel to go to the  regional finals?

A: It was even more incredible to hear that we were moving onto regionals. I cannot say enough positive things about my team. We worked hard and in the gym six days a week with anywhere between two to four hours of practice. It all payed off in the end.

Q: Are there any other cheerleading events coming up this year?

A: We cheer basketball and football games which are fall and winter. Competition is only in the fall so once the season’s over, it’s over. High school competitions have already ended.

Q: Do you have any advice for future cheerleaders?

A: I would definitely say that motivation is key. If you want something, you can achieve it. I can’t even tell you the number of times I have encouraged my team to reach our goal and to do the rough practices to get there.