First year coach leads cheerleaders to 5th place

By BRIAN JENNINGS

STAFF WRITER

In her first year with the Plainville High School cheerleading program, head coach Amber Fitzpatrick took her Lady Devils to compete on the big stage and placed fifth out of 19 teams with 151.5 points at the Class M championship, held at Hillhouse High School in New Haven on Saturday, March 4.

“We really tried to score high in our execution,” said Fitzpatrick. “Everything that we did might not have been the most difficult things we did, but we wanted to be very clean and look strong overall, and it worked in our favor.”

Wolcott won the Class M title with 176.3 points. Watertown (174.4) finished as runner-up, followed by St. Joseph (173.3), Montville (154.6), Woodland (141.4), Ellington (139.5), Waterford (133.8), New Fairfield (123.5), Plainfield (121.4), Stonington (121.2), Bacon Academy (118.3), Bethel (116), Northwestern (112.6), Weston (112.2), Granby Memorial (104.7), Haddam-Killingworth (86.7), Suffield (64.8), and Enfield (55.3).

Plainville finished 11th at last year’s state competition, and 10th the year before that. But according to Fitzpatrick, those days are over.

“To be honest, we just put in so much hard work,” said Fitzpatrick. “It was our goal to be in the top five at states. From day one, I told the girls what I was all about, what I expected from them, and where I imagined the program going. We just worked for that every single practice.”

Fitzpatrick started cheerleading at a young age, cheering for Wolcott Pop Warner football and Tyrrell Middle School in Wolcott. She cheered all four years at Wolcott High School and went on to become a USA Wildcat, based out of Naugatuck.

Following her days as a cheerleader, Fitzpatrick remained close to the sport and spent two years as an assistant cheer coach at Sacred Heart High School in Waterbury. She eventually returned to Wolcott Pop Warner football and Tyrrell Middle School, where she currently coaches cheerleading, aside from coaching at Plainville.

There was nothing in particular that attracted her to Plainville’s program, but Fitzpatrick said that she was looking for a place to branch out and spread her wings a little. She was looking for a place to grow as a coach, and the Lady Devils were the answer.

“My main thing was Wolcott Pop Warner,” said Fitzpatrick. “I was a head coach for them, but it was more of volunteer thing, and I wanted something a little more challenging.”

Fitzpatrick applied to multiple schools in her search for another cheer coaching position. In her research, she came across Plainville and watched their state video from last year’s state competition.

“I saw how much potential the team had,” said Fitzpatrick. “I was really eager to get into this program and work with it.”

Although Fitzpatrick took over a very young team of just two seniors and one junior, the Lady Devils still exuded success. Plainville finished the season as the CCC South champions and best overall team in the conference.

“There was huge growth within the girls, individually,” said Fitzpatrick. “What I came into and how we ended up was amazing.”

Girls on Plainville’s current cheerleading roster include the following: Heather Arduini, Jillian Arens, Milena Baltyn, Kaitlyn Butler (captain), Rachel Collin (all-conference), Jillian Conte, Callia Donahue (all-state), Cheyenne Gregory, Allie Guzzardi, Olivia Haddad, Kaylee Lamothe, Grace Perrotti, Isabella Pugliese (captain), Sydni Spencer (all-conference, all-state), Marlee Susco, and Jada Wilson (all-state).

As far as the season goes, the Lady Devils are done with competitions for the year, and Fitzpatrick said that she hopes to have tryouts before the end of the school year. Fitzpatrick said that she also hopes to get more involved with and work more with the feeder programs and youth of Plainville cheerleading.

“We have a really good base and foundation of what we want this program become,” said Fitzpatrick. “I want to work more with Plainville’s Pop Warner and middle school teams so that we can make our faces known. We want to make them eager to want to get better and want to be a part of Plainville High School cheerleading one day.”

To comment on this story or to contact sports writer Brian Jennings, email him at bjennings@southingtonobserver.com.

The Plainville High School cheerleaders at the Class M championships.