Bambies cheer way to 2 national titles

(Originally posted by Northeast Times February 19, 2023)

It wasn’t all about winning.

But winning certainly is nice.

The St. Hubert High School cheerleading team is used to bringing home national championships. Coach Lisa McNesby helped the Father Judge cheerleading team win a national crown in 2012. Five years later, she did the same thing with the Bambies’ cheerleading team.

This year, the Bambies did it again.

Competing in the National High School Cheerleading Championship at the ESPN Wide World of Sports complex in Orlando, the St. Hubert varsity team won the Large Varsity School Division 2 championship.

And to make it even better, the JV Gold Team, which competes in the JV Non-Tumbling Division, won a championship.

The JV Brown team made the final round, and placed ninth in the national championship.

A ninth-place finish, when you consider it’s competing against the best in the country, is an incredible accomplishment. Overall, St. Hubert now has nine national cheerleading championships.

But to bring home championships, it shows the kind of cheerleading program McNesby and the Bambies have put together.

“To win nationals means all of our hard work and dedication finally paid off,” said senior Alyssa Cooper. “We grew as a team all year and then peaked at the opportune time. Winning a national championship is what we work about 10 months for. That is our goal. To be the best in our D2 Large Varsity Division.

“Knowing that we did the absolute best we could do is such a great feeling and I would not trade it for anything. The feeling of winning a title my senior year is all I could have hoped for.”

The Bambies had a great year, and were led by an amazing group of seniors that includes Gabrielle Marzullo, Kaitlyn Wilson, Jess Burgher, Kate Tomes, Kyleigh Taylor and Francesca D’Andrea.

Overall, 72 cheerleaders from St. Hubert went to Orlando, and the girls did well representing the school.

Cheerleaders work very hard, the season is virtually all year, so to win a national championship, you don’t get a lot of days off. But it was well worth it.

“I believe we won because of how hard we worked,” said Marzullo, who cheers for the varsity team. “We put countless hours in the St. Hubert gym, working as hard as we possibly could. We have had many ups and downs, just like every other team. But in the end it all paid off and that was exactly our goal as a whole. With all of this being said, St. Hubert Varsity has four hard-working coaches, Lisa McNesby, Paul Ballentine, Mary Kate Kenny and Kristen Mahon. Our team would have not been able to achieve this amazing goal without these coaches.”

Every championship for McNesby is a special one. But this year might be the most special. Not only did she share the championship with her brother Ballentine, who has been a longtime coach with her, but this time she won with her daughter Allie, who is a sophomore on the team.

“It was very nice, because I’ve been able to win it with my brother, so that’s very special, but it was special to win with my daughter,” McNesby said. “It was special for all of the girls. I can’t believe our JV Gold team won because they almost didn’t make it into the finals, it was the most shocking, and it was so nice. As far as the varsity team, I’m so impressed with their composure under pressure. We hit our routine when it mattered the most across the board. They had great composure. This is a really, really good group.”

The cheerleaders feel the same way.

“After all the great practices where the team loved each other and the not-so-great practices when we just wanted to go home, we kept pushing and never gave up just for these two minutes and 30 seconds out on the nationals mat,” said Amanda Dean, who is on the Gold team. “The help and support of our coaches has to be the biggest factor because without them our team would not be where we are now, even on our bad days they’ve always kept a positive attitude and helped lighten the mood when things were getting frustrating.

“Whenever my group would find ourselves frustrated we could always count on a coach to come over and fix the issue then have us all laughing again in no time and to me that has always helped keep my passion and drive to cheer, which is what really brings girls together to perform a routine that wins.”

It helps to have support.

Cheerleaders need cheering, too, and the Bambies roll thick into Orlando. And they’re just as loud when their teammates are cheering as they are when they are.

“I feel that both St. Hubert teams won because of our support in the program,” said Kayla Mitchell, who cheers on the Brown team. “JV Brown, varsity and JV Gold had the loudest cheers of the arena. Even though we are all on different teams we are always there to cheer each other on, including the parents.

“People tend to think that we aren’t close being that there are 72 girls in the program but that couldn’t be any farther from the truth. It’s like having 72 sisters that will always have your back whether a team hits zero, or makes a few mistakes.”

It goes throughout the school.

When the Bambies are cheering, they have plenty of support.

“It means a lot to us to cheer for a school that has a great administration and a great athletic director,” McNesby said. “This was fun. They worked really hard. We’re very excited.”

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