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Charest Aims to Stress 3 Key Attributes for Success

Sep 30, 2014 08:46AM ● By Kenneth Hamwey

BHS Cheerleading Coach Jackie Charest

Jackie Charest competed on cheerleading squads at Tri County Vocational that twice won the Mayflower League competition. Now, the 25-year-old rookie coach is trying to help the 18 girls on Bellingham High’s team sharpen their skills with an eye toward becoming a factor in future Tri Valley League meets.

“There are three key attributes to building a strong cheerleading team, and those ingredients are dedication, confidence and athleticism,” Charest, pictured right, said. “Dedication is all about committing to fundamentals, confidence is simply developing a positive feeling about yourself and the team, and athleticism is about working on your own to be adept at dance, motion, tumbling and stunting.”

The cheerleaders, who perform at football games in the fall and basketball games in the winter, will battle for the TVL crown on Nov. 2 in Holliston. Charest also plans to enter her contingent in two invitationals, which likely will be at Tri County in Franklin and at Milford High.

The girls, who practice three times a week in the fall, are engaged in as much a varsity sport as any other at BHS. “Some people on the outside see cheerleading as a hobby,” Charest said;  “but we practice as hard and as vigorously as those in other sports. When we go to a competition, we’re trying to finish first. When we approach the TVL meet, we’ll be working out five times a week, and our goal will be to win the meet. As long as we give 100 percent, then the outcome for us will be in how the judges rate our effort.”

Charest has primarily focused on dance and motion in the early stages of the fall, but has devoted time to improving on tumbling and stunting. “I want clean routines,” she said. “That means that certain motions need to be done a certain way. Everyone has to be in sync. Tumbling, or the gymnastics side of cheering, is very important. We don’t have a lot of girls whose strengths are back-hand springs, but we’re working on improving. Stunting is another key area that involves body awareness when girls are in the air.”

Twenty girls reported for tryouts, but one left for another school, and another left for a different sport. No cuts were necessary because Charest opted to carry 18 on her roster. The captains are Delaney Beshai, Danielle Sarno, Kylee Dowdy and Sadie Shea. The rest include Chelsea Farrell, Micayla Goulet, Erin McTomney, Carly Mucciarone, Alyssa McQuillan, Hannah Sabourin, Vanessa Kutcher, Bailey James, Isabelle Cirelli, Julia Thibault, Lacey Spencer, Ashley Champagne, Hailey Garrison and Kiara Metivier.

“Many of the girls know me from coaching them in Pop Warner football,” Charest noted. “They know what to expect. So far, I’m pleased and excited about the way they work as a team and the dedication they’ve shown. They’ve been supportive and they encourage one another.”
Charest expects to be Bellingham’s cheerleading coach long-term, and she expects her girls to be top-notch ambassadors for their school and their community. “I want this program to aim for high standards so that the community will view the girls as a plus,” she emphasized. “As their coach, my philosophy is to prepare and encourage them for competitions. Winning meets is important. I also want them to walk away from a meet knowing they gained valuable experience and confidence, and that they enjoyed participating and competing.”

A native of Bellingham, Charest, who starred in volleyball at Tri County for four years, was a cheerleading captain her senior year. In spite of her rookie status as a coach, she preaches discipline and demands that her girls be dedicated and committed to the program and remain loyal to one another.

The TVL cheerleading meet on Nov. 2 in Holliston will be a good yardstick in measuring the Blackhawks’ progress. It also will provide some clues on how well Jackie Charest’s girls have adjusted to her style.






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