Milford Eagles Pee Wee cheerleading assistant coach and choreographer Nick Cairo made a prediction back in August.
At the time, assistant coach Susan Krushinsky had to laugh.
“Nick said our team had the talent to make it all the way to the nationals,” Krushinsky said. “We didn’t believe him then. But he told us all that was really needed was hard work.”
As the season progressed, the group of girls ages nine through 12 and all either elementary or middle school students in Milford, began getting better and better.
The end result was, in fact, a trip to Disney World in early December, where the team not only competed but finished second among 16 squads.
A final score of 84.94 was second only to the Iroquois Screaming Eagles of New Jersey.
“It was amazing making it to the nationals, and to finish second was unbelievable,” Krushinsky said.
The Pee Wee Eagles, associated with Milford’s Pop Warner Football League, advanced to the nationals by placing second at the New England Regionals on Nov. 17 in Springfield, Mass.
They were edged out by the Everett (Mass.) Crimson Tide 86.60-86.58, but, by being second, they earned a trip to Disney World.
Prior to that competition, the Eagles won the Regional Qualifier, also in Springfield, on Oct. 13. They were also second at the state level on Oct. 6 and won the Southern Connecticut Pop Warner (SCPW) title on Oct. 13.
Their season began in August and they trained four times a week until school started. Then they met three times per week.
“We haven’t seen each other now since December fourth and many of us are going through withdrawal symptoms,” Krushinsky said.
Milford’s Jennifer Connor headed up the coaching staff. She was joined by assistants Cairo, Krushinsky, Tim Devlin, Yvonne Jennings, Heather Parkornowsky and Alison Soto.
A group of junior assistants, all high school-age, who helped in demonstrating jumps, tumbling and stunts, included Destynne Gill, Kayla Gyger, Kayla Patrick, Leah Zinsky and Ashley Magdan.
Team members are: Brianna Aguilar, Camille (Carni) Averna, Lia Burrows, Brianna DelMedico, Stephanie Ferarra, Katelyn Griffin, Leala Harris, Natalie Hubler, Clair Krushinsky, Elisabeth (Ellie) McKenna, Molly McKenna, Eryn Mower, Hanna Parkornowsky, Emily Rednak, Elma Radoncic, Ann Sember, Juliana Soto and Courtney Thompson.
In order to qualify for the team’s scholarship program, all girls must have a high academic standing. The team averages 95.35.
During the season through the Pop Warner program, the girls were involved in community activities and raised money in October for breast cancer awareness.
“For many of them, this was their first trip to Disney World,” coach Krushinsky said. “It was enjoyable and it was fun. We even got to meet Minnie Mouse, who presented the awards.”
Also competing at Disney World were Milford’s Junior Pee Wees (ages 8-10), who placed fifth, and the Junior Midgets (ages 12-14), who came in second.
Junior Pee Wees
Milford’s Junior Pee Wee squad won the state competition before finishing second at both the New England Qualifier and the New England Regional.
The team was coached by Tanya Dana and assisted by Christina Smith, Mary Ann Smith, Keana Savoie, Angela Paulus, Ally German, Miranda Goncalves and Brenda Dodd.
Team members included Emily Berard, Sophia Dana, Stefanie Feher, Tatum Gray, Courtney Hanson, Hanna Pacelli, Katherine Parker, Sarah Paulus, Aliya Prosser, Emma Savoie, Kailey Smith and Marissa Turner.
After finishing its regular season undefeated, the Junior Midgets went on to take titles at the state level; they also captured the SCPW title and were New England Regional champions.
The team’s head coach is Leigh Torres and she was assisted by Amy Ouellette, Deb Goncalves, Amanda Crago, Julie Anguilar, Courtney McManus, Jackie O’Connor and Susie Anthony.
The team was comprised of the following members: Amelia Trapp, Olivia Ouellette, Alexis Jennings, Kirstyn Manes, Emily Berard, Samantha Pierpont, Majesty Reboira, Sydney Wedemeyer, Gayle Portoff, Roza Terew, Olivia Egersheim, Grace Laychak, Stella Patrick, Ashley Kokenos, Ashley Gillespie, Alexis Decrescenzo, Caraline, Mee, Destiny Gibbs, Sammie Goncalves, Maddie Bucko, Grace Piselli, Michelle Brunson, Lydia Charron, Ava Phelan, Madison Murphy, Brianna Marshall, Hope Burrows, Brianna Whitlock and Haley Lippard.