Football players Noah Palm and Brock Gingrich weren’t the only Cocalico students dismayed with last week’s news on the cancellation of the Big 33 game that was slated for Memorial Day weekend.
A pair of Cocalico cheerleaders, senior Caitlin Fassnacht and junior Gianna Titus, were supposed to cheer at the game.
“It was definitely sad,” Fassnacht said. “But at the same time, I understand everything going on right now is tough. Everyone is trying to make the best decision that they can.”
Fassnacht and Titus, both team captains for the Cocalico varsity cheerleading team this school year, had been selected to cheer at the game after a successful three-hour tryout in early January at Cheer Tyme Training Center in Cumberland County. About 100 cheerleaders participated in those tryouts. Thirty-four made it.
“The tryout consisted of learning a cheer and a dance,” Titus said. “And then showing the judges that you can do tumbling and stunting.”
Recent Cocalico graduates Halle High-Benson and Emily Harting also cheered at the Big 33 game in recent years. And Fassnacht did so at last year’s game — she ended up cheering for the Maryland cheerleading team because it was low on numbers.
“We had about 15 to 20 sideline cheers,” Fassnacht recalled of the experience. “And our halftime routine had a lot of different elements in it ... two different dances, a cheer and different stunts and tumbling.”
Cheerleaders like Fassnacht and Titus are accustomed to learning the many cheers and dances.
“Over the course of the football season we have about 15 to 20 cheers,” Titus said. “But chants, we have over 70 of those.”
Titus also designed the pregame banner that Cocalico football players tore through when running onto the field last fall.
“My favorite one was probably the Manheim Central one,” Titus said. “It said, ‘Bury the Barons’ with a gravestone on it.”
All of the above also came with attending class, two after-school cheerleading practices and Friday football games — the schedule remains about the same for the basketball season.
Additionally, Fassnacht participates on a competitive cheerleading team throughout the year, while Titus takes a gymnastics class once a week at Positive Fitness Gymnastics in New Holland, where she additionally works part-time.
In other words, the two have a work ethic. And a bit of maturity about them.
“That’s probably from gymnastics,” Fassnacht said. “It’s so mentally and physically tough at a young age you have to grow up a little bit.”
Fassnacht is set to attend Penn State later this year in hopes to become a nurse. She’s also waiting to hear back from a recent tryout for the Penn State cheerleading team.
Meanwhile, Titus still has a year of high school in front of her, with plans to participate in the tryouts to cheer at next year’s Big 33 game.