By Tessa Raebeck
Bridgehampton High School could become a local powerhouse in competitive cheerleading, if Athletic Director Eric Bramoff gets his wish. With its history of strong basketball and traditional cheerleading programs, the school may pursue hosting a competitive team on which girls would perform flips, mounts and other coordinated gymnastics-style moves on mats against other teams.
Contending in a division based on school size, the team would compete in four meets across Long Island throughout the school year. The current cheerleading team, which Mr. Bramoff said is in favor of switching from traditional to competitive cheer, would also continue to support the boys’ basketball program, cheering the Killer Bees on at home and away games, Mr. Bramoff told the Board of Education when pitching the idea at its meeting on December 17.
“I feel like if we really put our eggs into being the best cheerleading program out here, I think our girls—our high school and our modified-level girls—will have something they can hang their hats on,” said Mr. Bramoff. Modified-level refers to the middle school team of seventh and eighth grade athletes. Although it’s anticipated the team would primarily consist of girls, boys would be welcome to join as well.
The distinction between traditional and competitive cheerleading is measured by its intensity. In competitive cheerleading, the girls leave the mat, vaulting into the air with athletic flips and tricks, while in traditional cheering, other than the occasional lift, their feet remain on the ground. Competitive cheerleading is a modernized version of the sport in which girls’ athleticism and teamwork come first.
Bridgehampton, a prekindergarten through grade 12 school with an enrollment of less than 200, depends heavily on shared sports services with neighboring districts in Sag Harbor and East Hampton. A competitive cheerleading team, Mr. Bramoff said, would draw in girls from those schools, which do not have their own programs, and give Bridgehampton a new point of pride.
Sag Harbor has already expressed interest in a combined team, said Mr. Bramoff, who told the school board that although the girls from Bridgehampton and Sag Harbor would compete together at their cheerleading meets, they would still do traditional cheerleading on the sidelines at their respective schools separately.
Mr. Bramoff asked the board to support his idea by including “some resources for turning our cheerleading team into a competitive cheerleading team” in the budget for the next school year, 2015-16. The exact cost is yet to be determined.
Section XI, the governing body for school sports in Suffolk County, is looking into how to define a cheerleading team and make it a certified competitive sport on Eastern Long Island. Several questions asked by the board last week have yet to be answered by Section XI, such as the specific costs and whether the team’s season would extend through the whole school year or be separated by different seasons, like fall or winter cheer.
“There are a lot of questions out there and the reason that I want to do this…our girls need something,” said Mr. Bramoff, adding, “We’ve had great cheerleading teams here forever and we’ve put resources into it and I think, as everybody else adapts, I think it would be advantageous for us to say, you know what, we still have the best cheerleading team and we’re going to hang the banners on the wall.”
Mr. Bramoff does not think it’s possible to maintain both a competitive cheerleading program and a girls basketball program, but said, “obviously, if we have [girls] that would like to play basketball, we still have that relationship with Sag Harbor.”
The board gave Mr. Bramoff the go-ahead to further explore the creation of a team.
The next meeting of the school board will be on January 28, 2015, in the Bridgehampton School cafeteria.