The College of Staten Island Cheerleading squad finally turned the corner, putting three-straight runner-up finishes behind them by claiming the 2012 CUNYAC Cheerleading Championship in front of a feverish Sports & Recreation Center crowd at CSI. For the Dolphins, it was their first conference crown since 2003. The Dolphins narrowly bested second-place John Jay College by 16.5 points, while five-time defending-champion Brooklyn College came in third place and Medgar Evers College, fourth.
CSI was the third of the four squads to put on their show, a medley of stunts, jumps and chreography that seemed to work in perfect harmony. The Dolphins did a fine job of landing all of their routines, keeping steady on rises and dismounts. According to second year Head Coach Justine Green, the victory was well-deserved for a team that battled hard all season to perfect its routine.
“It’s an amazing feeling,” Green said. “We work all season for one night, so a lot of blood sweat and tears go into this. To work so hard and battle through the injuries we did and come out on top is very gratifying.”
Ashley Isaacs took third place in the Jumping competition as well
Green says it was the focus of the team above all else that helped the Dolphins finally capture the crown in 2012.
“One of our challenges in the past was that we struggled mentally to get over that hump,” tells Green. “This year we just focused on ourselves. We didn’t get caught up watching the other performances and mentally thinking we didn’t have what it took to win the championship. We stayed focused on ourselves and cheered for one-another. That concentration has helped take us to the next level, mentally and physically.”
CSI also came in third place in the individual jumping routine, where one cheerleader is chosen from the teams to show off two jumps. Ashley Isaacs did the honors for the Dolphins, earning the bronze while Medgar Evers came in second and John Jay College came in third.
The competition was close for the top prize, however, as CSI scored a total of 270 points next to JJC’s 253.5 points and third place Brooklyn College’s 227.5. John Jay exercised a very nice routine, with a heavy dance number that mixed in heavy beats and great choreography. Brooklyn College was dazzling with its array of jumps and stunts, but the Bulldogs suffered from a handful of drops and hard landings, likely shaving points from their score.
“I was a little worried,” Green admitted. “Even though we didnt have any drops we did wobble a little. But we stayed with the routine and never lost confidence and got better and better. We kept our smile, showed incredible spirit, and worked hard to finish the routine very well.”
For the Dolphins, the win was one sown by hard work and perseverance. In 2003, CSI formed its first-ever Cheerleading squad, and the team was brilliant, winning a CUNYAC title the same year. The team, however, was disbanded the very next year, and it wasn’t until 2009 that a handful of students started the grass-roots initiative back on the CSI campus, developing the squad into what it is today. The team has developed quickly, taking second place in each of the past three seasons before tonight, a run that including a heartbreaking finish last year, when CSI lost by the slimmest total in CUNYAC history.
“It’s a great feeling,” Green said. “Those same kids who started the program are still heavily invested; coming to practice, offering advice, and polishing our routine. CSI has been a big family for all of us, and to celebrate like this is truly special.”
After the competition, CSI was awarded their medals individualy in a ceremony headed by Commissioner Zak Ivkovic. This was the first year ever that the College of Staten Island was chosen to host the event, and a large number of fans stayed in the stands cheering on the Dolphins, who seemed to celebrate equally with John Jay College on their second-place finish.