HARRISON, N.Y. - She might be a minority on the team, being one of only two seniors, but Christie Suozzo has something most girls on the Harrison High School cheer team don't: years of Husky experience.
After spending her freshman year on the junior varsity team, Suozzo made the varsity squad the following year and has stuck with them since.
"When I made junior varsity in ninth grade, I was nowhere near varsity status," Suozzo said. "I couldn't even do a cartwheel. But now, here I am hopefully doing my back handspring this season. I'm doing things I could have never imagined to have pulled off."
Suozzo and the rest of the Harrison Cheerleaders won their first competition of the year this month when the team won the third annual WPDRCCA Conference B competition at Somers High School, giving the team a championship banner to hang in the school.
"Our goal has been to win a banner," Suozzo said. "We want to win and put something up in the gym to show for it. To win a banner in my senior year for Harrison was amazing."
But it's only the beginning for what team Coach Rosa Acocella said is a long and competitive season for the 24 girls.
"We're looking forward to great things," Acocella said. "I tell the girls that every competition is a clean slate. We can't take anything for granted because getting first one week doesn't mean you can't get last the next."
Acocella leads the team through several three-hour practices a week with as many as five in weeks leading up to big competitions.
"They work hard no matter what," Acocella said. "They want to be here and they demonstrate it because they practice hard."
The Harrison cheerleaders participate in various school events and also compete in national competitions with the culmination of its season taking place at a Florida national competition in February.
"We're pushing the limit," Suozzo said. "Every year that I've been on this team, we've been doing better than the year before and this year is going to be better."
Nov. 21 at the Westchester County Center
Dec. 3 at the UCA regionals at Hofstra University
Dec. 10 at the New Rochelle Festival of Champs
Jan. 14 at Scarsdale High School
Jan. 20 at the Harrison Husky Cheer Challenge at Harrison High School
Jan. 28 at Croton Harmon High School
Feb. 4 at Putnam Valley High School
Feb. 9 at the UCA Nationals in Orlando, FL.
Click here to sign up for Daily Voice's free daily emails and news alerts.