The Hamilton Revolution JV Pop Warner team is headed to Disney World to compete in the Pop Warner National Tournament after winning the Eastern Regionals. They can use some help with funding and are reaching out to the public.
By Rich Fisher
Nov. 27: At 8 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 10, members of the Hamilton Pop Warner Revolution JV Cheerleading team got the news they had long been waiting for.
For the first time, the girls were the East Regional champions, meaning they have advanced to the Dec. 4 Pop Warner National competition at Disney World in Orlando, Fla., Dec. 4.
“Our head coaches and some of our families have been with this league for eight years and never in that time have we won Regionals or won our way to Disney,” assistant coach Dawn Shiron said. “At the Mitey Mite level, we were invited to participate five and six years ago, but those were by invitation, not on winning merit.”
What made this accomplishment so impressive, is that it was so unexpected.
“This year has been challenging as many of our team members ‘aged out’ last year moving on to either high school or competition cheer, or even other sports,” Shiron said. “Having a smaller group of participants this year, the coaches decided to combine our junior varsity and varsity girls to build unity and strength. We even had several new cheerleaders added to the team. All of which led us to believe that this would be a building year, but it has turned into a winning year.”
By winning the prestigious title, the team is now looking for community funding in order to afford plane fare and accommodations for Florida. Anyone wishing to contribute can click here to go www.GOFUNDME.com. Once there, you will see a team picture after winning regionals.
“We are hoping that the local community, as well as friends and family, will help raise funds through the Go Fund Me page and are offering special sponsorship opportunities to local businesses that are willing to sponsor us,” Shiron said. “We will be shouting out a special thank you to our business donors, ensuring the public will know of their generosity. Donations of $500 or more also gets businesses a banner on our Hamilton Pop Warner Football Field.”
The team’s head coach is Jennifer Valyo. Joining Shiron as assistants are Grady Hunt, Stephanie Hunt, Nichelle Laramore, Yvonne Matthews-Ramsey, Chrisie Haws (the league’s Cheer Commissioner) and Xiomara Mercer.
The team members are Natalie Abbott, Allyson Bednarek, Ava Clark, Ava Clugsten, Audrina Cohall, Imani Conover, Zarine De Los Angeles, Julianna Dunn, Makenzee Hunter, Maddy Karr, Bryanna King, Evalyn Long, Katherine Mains, Kamryn Mooney, Xianna Reed, Valerie Rivera Moralez, Alyssa Shiron and Ciara Vellozzi.
The team began intense practice sessions on Aug. 1, which took place two hours per session for three nights per week. Once school began, the schedule switched to two weeknight practices and one-weekend session.
“Initially we work on cheers for Hamilton Pop Warner football games as well as strength training,” Shiron said. “Shortly after that we begin working on our choreography for the competitions we have in October.”
Competition began in October with the Revolution JV and Mitey Mite teams each winning the Central Jersey Pop Warner competition. The JV then placed in the New Jersey competition to advance to the Eastern Regionals.
“We’ve been fortunate enough in prior years to make it as far as Regionals, however, the long sought-after advancement to Nationals had eluded us,” Shiron said. “This year, we took first in our division to guarantee us a spot in Disney World.”
Shiron has been an assistant coach and team mom “for as long as I can remember” and her daughter is in her final year of competition. She cannot say enough about the league’s Cheer leadership.
“My involvement started small but grew year after year as I began to realize that we weren’t just a cheer team, we were a cheer family,” Shiron said. “Many of our children have grown up together through this program and look to the head coaches with such respect. They’ve helped shape our girls’ lives. Their support goes well beyond the field and the competition floor. They have helped with teaching our girls life lessons.”
Many of those lessons have to do with giving back.
“We are known for contributing to our community,” Shiron said. “This past year alone we donated food items to those in Wilmington affected by Hurricane Florence as well as to local friends in need by making a donation to the Bromley Center Thanksgiving Food Drive. Upon returning from Nationals, we have a plan to warm the homeless with socks and hats. What fantastic ways to teach our cheerleaders how to give back to their community, which is something we do each season.”
Lest anyone reading this after the Nationals think it’s too late to donate, think again! The Revolution is preparing for the possibility of the YCADA Global competition on Jan. 19. A victory at Nationals provides an automatic berth at the Globals, or Hamilton may choose to perform there regardless.
“Fortunately that competition is a bit closer (Atlantic City),” Shiron said. “There are still numerous costs involved but not to the same extent as Disney.”
So with the holidays upon us, get into that spirit of giving – no matter how small or large – and help to fund a Hamilton Township champion.