The College of Staten Island has named Aurora Haxhari the new Head Cheerleading Coach, it was announced today. She takes over the position from Tiffany Galbo who recently departed to become the Head Cheerleading Coach at Wagner College. She becomes the fifth Head Cheerleading Coach since the program was revived in 2009 and takes over immediately following four years at CSI as a student and cheerleader. Also joining the staff will be new Volunteer Assistant Coach Melissa Silverman who cheered alongside Haxhari at the College of Staten Island during her time with the program.
As a student at the College of Staten Island, Haxhari attended the Verrazzano School while earning a BA in History Education. She graduated Magna Cum Laude with a 3.75 GPA earlier this year, and her academic achievements were paired with numerous accolades she received as part of the Dolphins Cheerleading program. During her first season with CSI Cheer, the Dolphins took first place in their final appearance in the CUNYAC Championship and she earned Rookie of the Year honors as part of the CSI Athletics awards. During her senior season last year, she was named Head Captain and won the team’s Player of the Year honor at the end of the season..
In addition to her role as part of the Cheerleading program, Haxhari also was a member of the Student-Athlete Advisory Council from 2019 until her graduation in 2022. In 2020, she was elevated to SAAC Vice President and the following year she was named Co-President of the organization. While at CSI she also served as a first-generation student ambassador for RF CUNY, providing first-generation freshmen with support and resources to assist in both academic and personal matters.
Recounting her time at CSI, Haxhari said, “being a part of CSI cheerleading made me feel a sense of belonging. I always valued involvement because it helps you grow as an individual and makes you a better student. Dolphin Cheer and CSI Athletics became a family to me and made my experience much greater, something I aim to build with my team, as their coach.”
Haxhari has not only been heavily active within the campus community at the College of Staten Island but has also given back Staten Island community as well. Outside of CSI, she has spent time with United Activities Unlimited as an after-school and summer camp group leader and has participated in other extracurricular activities. Among these was time spent as an adult team member working with Cheer 4 a Cause, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit organization that seeks to spread awareness for a variety of causes that impact youth in the local community. Most recently, she began volunteering as a Staten Island Elite STUNT coach in August.
Haxhari and the Cheerleading squad recently held their media day and were a presence at the Men’s Basketball and Women’s Basketball home-openers last weekend. However, the presence of the program is poised to grow with the emergence of STUNT at institutions throughout the country. This alternative format for competitive cheerleading is quickly gaining traction in a bid to become an NCAA-recognized sport.
“STUNT is an NCAA emerging sport and I hope to see a future for it here at the College of Staten Island,” said Haxhari. “I played on New Dorp High School STUNT from 2016-2018, where we reached the quarter finals in our first season, and went to the finals of the PSAL Championship, finishing in second place both years after that. As a previous STUNT athlete myself, I have a lot of passion for the sport and I would love to see an opportunity provided for young ladies who love cheerleading and seek the recognition of being considered an athlete in the eyes of the NCAA. It is always about the student-athletes and what they take away and learn from their experience in college athletics.”
Additionally, the new head coach is setting her sights on an exciting future for the Cheerleading program. “I have high hopes of growing this team and program to great things,” Haxhari said. “Nationals is the goal of many competitive cheerleading teams. I know it will take a lot of hard work, commitment, and time, but I am ready to take this goal on.”
By: CSI Athletics