Cheerleaders Flip their Way to First


Chantilly varsity cheerleaders pose with their competitors following their legendary Districts win.

Nyla Carter-Ogden, Staff Writer

Proudly donning the school colors of purple and white, the varsity cheerleaders dominated the local competition this season, each match gearing up for the team’s end-of-the-season highlight of district and regional first place finishes for the first time since 2009 and 2007, respectively.
“We were all crying and freaking out because we hadn’t won district in eight years,” junior Becca Owens said.
Varsity cheer coach Brett Hysinger was impressed with the passion and drive displayed through the routine.
“Their win boosted their confidence and made them more hungry to do well at regional,” Hysinger said.
The drive and desire to win began earlier than one may think, with cheer practices beginning in early August.
“They started practicing for this routine back in the beginning of August and have been perfecting this routine for the past two-and-a-half months,” Director of Student Activities Corey Bowerman said. “On the first round of districts, they had a fall, but they came back in the finals and did great.”
The Purple Platoon helped the team reach a new level of competition by encouraging the members during the pressure-filled moments at competitions.
“When we had the Purple Platoon support us at regional and district, that pushed us so hard and we had so much drive to really perform for them,” sophomore Ashvita Vadicherla said.
The team fed off of the energizing atmosphere that the audience created.
“Everyone was yelling for us, and we’d never hit a routine that perfectly before,” Owens said. “That was the best we’ve ever hit it at district.”
The team credits its bonding as a catalyst to its success, creating deeper levels of trust that ultimately launched the team into a new era of success. The teammates’ bond solidified further following the recent announcement that one of the captain’s moms had been diagnosed with breast cancer.
This captain, senior Taylor Zampiello, has played a crucial role in the team’s success this year. Not only did Zampiello help lead practices, but she also made sure to be there for her teammates, who often come to her for guidance both on and off the mat.
“Everyone clicks and comes together like a family,” Zampiello said. “We’re all sisters, and we have [senior] Gio [Encarnacion], who’s like our brother.”
The teammates were there by Zampiello’s side after her mother’s diagnosis of breast cancer, and they served as an unwavering support system for both Zampiello and her sister, freshman Payton Zampiello, also on the varsity team.
“We made [my mom] this really big card and got her this huge flower bouquet and an Edible Arrangement,” Taylor Zampiello said. “Everyone’s been super great about it, so having them with me and helping me through it has been awesome.”
Moments like these often test the bonds of teams, causing student athletes to open themselves up to those who see them in their most vulnerable moments. The varsity cheerleaders have shown tremendous support to those who need it most within their team, which has contributed to the newly established winning streak.
After success at the district and regional levels, the next item on the team’s list was heading to the state championship in Richmond, which was a goal of the team following last year in which a slim point margin prevented them from doing so. Although the team did not place at the state level, that didn’t deter them from seeing the real prize gained throughout the season.
“As our seniors move on, we’re just going to keep pushing and trying,” Vadicherla said. “It’s going to motivate us more to continue a legacy.”
The support and communication system the team developed over the season certainly had a positive effect on the ability to face and conquer other competitors. Cheerleading is a team sport, and by coming together during times of distress, the athletes showed that they are capable of doing amazing things.
“I’m hoping what they take from it is that in life, you get out of it what you put into it,” Bowerman said. “If you work hard, there are rewards.”