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Sports Archives The Altamont Enterprise, March 10, 2011
By Jordan J. Michael
GUILDERLAND Winners should never be booed, but the Guilderland cheerleading team, which won its fifth national championship in six years on Feb. 26, periodically has been booed by crowds during competition in the Capital Region over the last few years.
At last Saturday’s Suburban Council Championships, where the Dutch were Grand Champions, Head Coach Patty Palmer made a special request for no booing during Guilderland’s two-and-a-half minute routine. The announcer kept repeating that no booing would be tolerated.
“It’s disappointing and hurtful,” senior Traci Jill said of the booing this week. “I guess the other teams around here are bitter because we always win. The booing pushed us and worked to our advantage.”
A substantial amount of booing came down on Guilderland when it beat Shenendehowa for the Suburban Council crown last season. Palmer said that the music for the last minute-and-a-half of this year’s routine, which is to the theme from Friends, was an attempt to make peace with the disgruntled community.
However, the plan backfired and the Dutch got booed once more at the Saratoga Cup, where the Dutch cheerleaders were again Grand Champions. “I guess people are sick of seeing us win,” said Palmer, who has been coaching since 1983. “It doesn’t make sense because we work so hard and push all the other teams to be better.”
Palmer remembers the days when people in the crowd would chant “G-H-S! G-H-S!” instead of booing. “It’s usually a tense competition,” she said. “We’re humble when we accept our awards. A quiet win.”
Senior Jim Wood told The Enterprise that all the booing is humorous to him. “I kind of like it,” he said. “Clearly, there are some feelings of jealousy.”
“I don’t know why it happens, but we win anyways,” said Giuliana DeAngelis, who has been part of three national championship squads (in 2008, ‘09, and ‘11). “We got through it all.”
In contrast, the Dutchmen are praised in Orlando, Fla. at Disney’s Wide World of Sports Complex where the Guilderland team has won all five championships (in 2006, ‘07, ‘08, ‘09, and ‘11). This year, Guilderland finished first in its division with the second highest score of all 56 teams from across the nation in attendance.
“We have a great reputation down there and we’re known as superstars,” said Palmer. “Other teams idolize us and we’re the last team to perform. You hear people say, ‘Make room for the Dutchmen.’ It’s a great feeling for my cheerleaders and me.”
After coming up short in the nationals in 2010, Guilderland felt a little extra pressure to perform in 2011. Most cheerleading teams assemble in May, Palmer said, but the Dutch gather in November and start mapping things out immediately.
“It’s an unreal feeling,” Wood said of getting to know 28 other people. “We’re all going for the same goal. We get two-and-a-half minutes to do everything, but it’s all worth it in the end.”
“It was easy getting down to work,” said Jill, one of 15 seniors. “We all wanted to win.”
The Dutchmen capped off its season on Sunday with another Grand Champion win at the National Cheer Association Northeast Regionals. “We’re proud of the extra hard work,” DeAngelis said. “It felt great.”
Palmer feels lucky to be able to watch the cheerleading process spill out in front of her over several months. She’s been watching some of the kids since they were cheering for Pop Warner.
“Watching it come together piece by piece is a great experience,” Palmer said. “It’s really nice to be champions again. We travel together to one of the most magical places on earth. It’s a special moment.”
DeAngelis and Jill weren’t sure if they’d go on to cheer in college because they know that it wouldn’t be the same. “It won’t be as special,” DeAngelis said.
“We had special winning ingredients,” Jill said. “It was magical.”