By Emily Cott
The sport of cheerleading has completely changed within the last ten years. It has shifted from just focusing on “spirit” to being a very athletic and competitive team sport. In fact, in 2009, cheerleading was declared an official sport in New York state. At BHHS, many improvements have been implemented that match the sport’s observed shift. For example, a JV team has been added, and there has been a significant increase in the skills required of the cheerleaders, such as tumbling and complex stunts. With the introduction of these changes, the BHHS coaching staff has had to adapt to embrace these new challenges.
Not only has the BHHS cheerleading team had to increase its level in spite of these changes, but this year, the team also welcomed a new coaching staff with head coach Brittney Mangieri. Coach Mangieri is an extremely experienced cheerleader and coach, who has been a part of the cheerleading community for much of her life. I had the privilege of speaking with her right after experiencing her first Byram Hills’ homecoming. Coach Mangieri’s interest in cheerleading began at the young age of five years old. While watching her childhood babysitter participate in her local high school’s cheerleading team, Coach Mangieri was inspired to begin her own cheerleading journey.
Coach Mangieri began cheering in the youth program in Monroe Woodbury, New York. In addition, she was a cheerleader in the Elite All Stars program throughout her childhood. Once she graduated from high school, she attended Ramapo College of New Jersey and was a member of the school’s cheerleading team. After graduating from college, she moved on to coaching at Ramapo and later, returned to the Elite All Stars program where she had begun her very own cheerleading career as a young girl. Mangieri ended up at Byram Hills when she noticed a post on OLAS, an online application system for educators in the New York state area. When she first walked into BHHS for her interview, she said, “I immediately fell in love with the sense of community throughout the school district.”
Since beginning with us in August, Coach Mangieri has adopted the traditions of our program. While adapting to our methods at Byram, she has also made some changes that she believes will make our program even stronger. One new change she has already implemented in the program was bringing in a National Cheerleading Association camp this year, which gave the team an opportunity to learn new stunts and choreography, while bonding as a group. She also mentioned that she would like to see our varsity cheerleading team branch out, attending competitions all around the country rather than just locally, like they have done in the past. Mangieri mentioned that she would like to see the level of athleticism of our athletes continue to be pushed to an even higher level.
Every member of the Byram Hills Cheer coaching staff is new this year, which has presented a variety of new challenges in the program, but has also allowed Mangieri and her team to create amazing new memories and traditions, such as decorating the seniors’ cars for homecoming. Mangieri told me that so far, her favorite experience coaching at BHHS was watching the team during their three day NCA camp. Mangieri explains, “Watching the team experience something new in the world of cheerleading was amazing… [I loved seeing that] individual members of the team were recognized for their skills.” She also loved our community’s participation in the Alzheimer’s walk and noted that it was really fun for the community to get a chance to see BHHS cheer support the cause as well.
Cheerleading is very different from other sports, as each school team differs in some way, whether it be the how the team puts up stunts or how their specific cheers are recited at games. One thing Coach Mangieri noticed at Byram that she really loved was the traveling pep rally during the week of homecoming. As a staff member at HCC, she noticed how much her middle school students appreciated the presence of the cheerleaders and team captains, getting them excited about being members of the Byram Hills community.
Coach Mangieri exclaimed, “I’m so happy to be a part of the Byram Hills community. I’m so excited to see where our cheerleading program can go.” We, as a community, are just as eager to welcome her and see what she has in store for our program. Go Byram!