JAMESTOWN - More than 40 cheer and dance teams filled the Physical Education Complex of the Jamestown Community College campus with warm spirit and friendly smiles Sunday during the 19th Annual Chautauqua County Cheer & Dance Championship.
Organizer and JCC Jayhawks Cheerleading Coach Diane Ringer noted that a portion of the proceeds from Sunday's competition will be donated to "Go Red for Women," an awareness campaign of the American Heart Association.
Its annual Wear Red day is Feb. 5. Wearing red symbolizes women and their struggle with heart disease, which is the number one cause of death among women.
Ringer was pleased with the relaxed and friendly atmosphere at this year's event, noting there were no catastrophic injuries to any of the competitors. Regarding safety, she reminded coaches and advisors of the safety training offered through the American Association of Cheerleading Coaches & Administrators.
"I think we had a good time and a good experience, and that's what we go for," stated Ringer.
"We had a fun and relaxed atmosphere, and it is a positive event for the college itself," she added.
Rosa DeMarco-Farrell, of DeMarco Sisters Dance Studio, coached several of her dance and cheer teams into first and second place spots on Sunday. She stated her favorite part of being involved in competition is "watching the girls, they love being out there."
DeMarco-Farrell, who has been involved in the sport for at least 10 years and part of her family's dance studio for 20, noted positive aspects of being involved in cheer and dance for young people are "confidence, sportsmanship, and it teaches them teamwork."
"They have to work together as one team, and they are always uplifting and supporting each other as friends," she concluded.
DeMarco Sisters' teams will be taking part in a competition Feb. 14 at Jamestown High School where proceeds will be donated to the JHS Junior class. Teams under her direction took part at all levels of skill and competition. The DeMarco Stars and DeMarco Rockets Cheer Teams both placed first in their divisions. Their Youth and Senior Hip Hop Teams took first in their divisions, as well. DeMarco-Farrell's cheer and dance groups offer three high school teams, a parent team and a special needs team.
The Spitfirez Special Needs Team took part in Sunday's event as their first competition. Coached by Jeri Summerville, Brittany Mason and Molly Brown, all of the Cheer Starz cheer and dance group, the team consists of members with legal blindness, Down's syndrome and learning disabilities.
DeMarco-Farrell and Summerville both echoed their enjoyment in coaching special needs team members, citing physical activity, socialization and boosting self-esteem as positive aspects of their participation.
"They were very happy and excited and they just loved watching all of the other cheerleaders," stated Summerville.
Teams will also be taking part in Cheer for the Cure at the University of Buffalo, an annual event that supports the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation.
The Overall Grand Champion winner was the Hott Shotts Senior Level 3 Team from Collage Performing Arts Center. Other winners were: Junior All Star Grand Champion: HEAT Cheer Starz.
Other big winners of the day were the cheer and dance teams from Collage Performing Arts Center in Fredonia. The Dazzler, Hot Shot and New York Majestic Dance Teams from Collage are preparing for their annual trip to Orlando Fla, where they will compete in the UDA Nationals Dance Competition. The Hott Shots Level 3 Sr. All Star Team was awarded the Overall Grand Champion Trophy and received Grand Champion T Shirts provided by the JCC Cheerleading Team.