Published on February 11th, 2014 | by Kim Conley
Spotlight Squad: Pinkerton Academy
For years, Pinkerton Academy Varsity Cheerleading—known throughout New England as PAVC—has been on top of the cheerleading world in New Hampshire and across New England.
The seventeen-time State Champions and six-time New England Champions (three titles in Coed and three in All Girl) are known for their high-speed routines, packed with exceptional stunting and tumbling skills. Another highpoint of their performances is the dance, which is always themed or theatrical. PAVC’s Broadway-themed routine has one of the most hits of any cheerleading routine on YouTube! You can watch it here.
Pinkerton Academy has enjoyed great success in both the Coed and All Girl divisions. (They are not allowed to attend National competitions per the governing body for sports in New Hampshire.) This year marks the team’s first season as an All Girl squad since 2009. Michelle McCarty, currently in her 13th year as head coach at Pinkerton, coaches under the philosophy that you cannot train an athlete to go out and outdo another athlete.
“That is like asking the impossible. They cannot control what anyone else or any other team does. They only have control over themselves and what they are able to handle,” McCarty said. “If you ask an athlete to be better than they were yesterday, they can meet and exceed expectations. The more personal success an athlete feels, the more willing they are to dedicate themselves to the greater good of the team.”
PAVC has been on an incredible run under the direction of coach McCarty. How does she do it year after year? McCarty says that the only way to make someone buy what you are selling as a coach is to work hard, believe in what you do and make your athletes realize that there is love behind every correction.
“I have 23 athletes that I coach in 23 different ways because that’s what required. What motivates and works for one, doesn’t work for all,” McCarty told AC. “If you focus on bringing out the best in each athlete and really get to know what makes each athlete tick, the success will happen.”
Every team aspires to win championships, but the Astros from Pinkerton shine beyond just the competition mat. On numerous occasions they have received the Sportsmanship Award, voted on by opposing teams. This season, 85% of the team is on the honor roll or earns high honors in the classroom!
Pinkerton is spreading spirit outside of school too! The cheerleaders consistently participate in charity and service work in their community. At Hoops for Hunger, they collect money during basketball games to benefit local soup kitchens, where they also volunteer. PAVC has collected the most money for New Hampshire four years in a row! They also collected thousands of dollars at a playoff game to assist a Pinkerton teacher’s ailing husband. In addition, PAVC sends care packages to troupes overseas, collect gifts for families in need during the holidays and mentors youth cheer teams.
“PAVC is more than the State Titles they win. The dedication of the athletes is second to none,” said athletic director Tim Powers. “They go above and beyond as ambassadors for the school, raising money for the local food bank and helping to promote school spirit. When you see all that they do and then the fact that they put these amazing routines together – it can be hard to believe that they do all of that.”
Each season, the Astros’ team mission is the same. It is always to be better than the last time they took the mat. They do no set out to beat any other team; they focus solely on their own scores and performance.
“We expect that each member of the team gives more effort than the day before,” McCarty said. “When each member truly dedicates themselves to the goal, the entire team improves. The winning will take care of itself if the focus is off of winning and on the journey.”
The journey has been a great one thus far for PAVC. Winning so many championships is without a doubt a thrilling experience. More than that, though, is the bond they have formed as a team. The time spent together and the memories made have united them as a family.
“This family of 23 girls has made me so proud. In all my years of cheering, I have never been a part of a team that strives and pushes as much as this one,” said captain Chelsea Bousquet. “Coach McCarty is the best coach I have ever had and I am so thankful for every opportunity she has given to me and this team. Without her, we wouldn’t be where we are today.”
“Being part of PAVC has helped me to become not only a better cheerleader, but a better person,” senior Steph Longo told AC. “These girls and coaches have brought out the best in me. I will always carry with me the lessons I have learned and will always cherish the love and dedication we have put forth all these years.
“It’s so much more than just a team to me. It is truly my second family,” said senior Meg Chaganis. “I am thankful every day to be part of such a passionate and driven team. I think what makes us successful is the close bond we share and our absolute love for cheerleading.”
Pinkerton won its 17th State Division I Championship this year at Fall States. Prelims for Winter States are right around the corner on March 9th, where the top eight teams will move on to States. Good luck PAVC!
PAVC Fun Facts:
-The team is addicted to anything sour. They LOVE sour patch kids!
-They sing songs before competing as a ritual to prepare and focus.
-They eat pink/red foods before every competition.
-The team writes encouraging notes to each other before each State competition.
-Their annual scavenger hunt has become a rite of passage.
-They love their Varsity Last Pass shoes!
-Everyone on the team has a nickname.
-They only run their routine ONCE each practice!
by: Kim Conley
photos by: Jim Robidoux