Cheer(leaders): Marblehead’s competitive program has helped student athletes-develop on and off the matt

The Marblehead cheerleading squad competes in the Northeastern Conference Fall Cheerleading Championship Competition. Photo by Spenser Hasak

Samantha Klipper took over the Marblehead High School competitive cheerleading program when the Massachusetts Fall Two season began in February of 2021. Her impact was immediately felt and as the flowers began to grow that Spring, so did her athletes. 

They continued to grow as a team into that fall, and a year later, Klipper’s Varsity and Junior Varsity teams have improved significantly. Over the weekend, both teams competed at the Northeastern Conference meet, which was a qualifier for the regional meet. 

The Junior Varsity team competed with 14 other programs, and earned itself a third place finish. The Varsity team competed amongst 11 programs and were able to improve its score from a week ago at the Billerica Invitational by four points, which is an impressive margin in the sport. 

Klipper was extremely proud of the way her team performed, especially considering the unanticipated obstacles the team ran into shortly before the competition. Both teams excelled despite having to scramble due to injuries and a few illnesses that had happened prior to the weekend. Klipper commented on the team’s resiliency.

“We had some quick changes we had to make to the JV routine, and we had some quick changes we had to make to the Varsity routine. But they’re super resilient athletes,” she said. “They’re incredibly talented, and they have such a remarkable way about being able to persevere through whatever challenges that were thrown at them this season. That says a lot about them as athletes.”

Members of the Marblehead cheerleading squad embrace following the NEC Fall Cheerleading Championship Competition.

The teams’ success and progression this season is particularly impressive with the number of athletes that are new to the sport. Klipper said that of the 39 combined cheerleaders between the competition and gameday teams, roughly 35 percent of the athletes are brand new to cheerleading. 

When Klipper took over in the spring of 2021, the program had 23 athletes. The following season, that number grew to 29. Now, with almost 40 athletes participating in the program, Klipper has helped Marblehead High cheer grow significantly every single year.

With many new faces comes new challenges, but Kliper notes that the last few years have been building blocks for the program, and that everyone has come in ready to put in the work.

“It’s just been a lot of growth over the last few seasons. With that growth comes new talent, new fresh faces that are eager to learn, that really want to be a part of something bigger than themselves,” Klipper said.

Though there are a lot of new faces, Klipper has four seniors on the Varsity squad. Tamia Johnson, Julia Bender, Grace Cuzner, and Bella Cataldo have been cornerstones for their team, especially during the developmental process that started when Klipper took over. With four freshmen, three sophomores, and two juniors, the four seniors have played a huge role in leading by example for the younger athletes, not just on the mat, but off of it as well. 

When asked about the impact that her seniors have had throughout the years, particularly in this season, Klipper couldn’t say enough on what they have brought to the program.

“I don’t know that I can eloquently express the impact that they have had this year to the girls we have,” she said. “There’s a legacy there that they’re leaving that will be hard to replicate in future years.”

While those four seniors are leaving a lasting impact on Marblehead High cheerleading, Klipper, as well as assistant coaches Shana Sawyer and Savannah Mathers are already beginning to build a legacy of their own. The program has seen a steady climb in the number of athletes that participate in both JV and Varsity programs as well as the game day team and the athletes have come a long way in a short period of time.

Klipper says it’s important that the athletes become better in their craft, but the three coaches have focused on teaching each team valuable skills and life lessons that will help them become not just great athletes, but help them become the best version of themselves. And that’s the legacy that she wants to leave behind.

“These girls are amazing athletes, and most of all they’re just really good humans,” Klipper said. “It’s not just about building good athletes, it’s about building good humans. The aspect of what does it mean to be apart of a team, or what kinds of qualities you need to be a good leader, or how to effectively communicate with each other. It’s all of those little life lessons that you kind of hope that someday at the end of the season, they take something away from it.”