SCHENECTADY – Three teams from Schenectady’s Pop Warner cheerleading program have qualified to compete at the 2021 Pop Warner Nationals in Orlando, Florida.
The Schenectady-Belmont Cheerleading Program is the only Capital Region cheerleading organization sending three teams to this year’s national competition.
“We are very proud of all our girls for achieving this feat. We started the year struggling to find enough practice space and practice time due to the COVID-19 restrictions. It’s amazing to see how far we have come. I can’t tell you how hard these girls worked for this,” said Elisha Bredenko, assistant coach of the Schenectady Pop Warner varsity team.
Bredenko’s team had an impressive competition to earn a national berth. The Schenectady Pop Warner University team placed first in the region’s local competition, the state competition, and the eastern region competition held in Trenton, New Jersey. The university girls plan to continue the Cinderella race at this year’s national meet.
“It is the first time cheerleading for most of these girls and certainly the first time most of them have got an opportunity to go to the national level. We have a good team and a good routine.
Since Jersey, we have been adding skills to our routine to compete with these other teams that have been here before. Our girls are very devoted and want it just as badly as anyone else, ”said Bredenko.
Bredenko is taking his team to the national level for the first time. However, she is actively learning her recipe for success from her mother, the varsity team head coach and program coordinator.
“My mom has been coaching for Pop Warner for almost 20 years. Since June she has spent time every day of the week working on something for the program. He loves coaching and he loves these girls. This is not the first team she has taken to the national level and it certainly will not be her last. She is the best at what she does and is a true pillar of the community,” Bredenko said.
Along with the varsity team, Schenectady Belmont’s “Mighty Might” and “Tiny Might” teams have also earned a place to compete at the national level. The Mighty Might team placed fourth in the Eastern Regional competition and consists of girls ages seven to nine. The Tiny Might team is the youngest of the three and consists of girls between the ages of five and six. Due to the impressive performance of the Tiny Might team, he received an invitation to participate in the national competition.
“Our girls are very dedicated and want it just as badly as we want it to be. It is great that we have a winning team, but we are very fortunate and blessed that our youth teams have supported us. The varsity team gives little girls something to watch,” Bredenko said.
Bredenko is very proud of the girl’s achievements, yet the competition is not the only mission of the organization.
“We hear a lot of negativity about Schenectady and we want to change that. We have created a safe and fun environment for girls, and are always looking to improve. This program is special because our girls not only learn cheerleading, Rather how to communicate, persevere and be friends. Our motto is ‘one team one family’ and we really are,” Bredenko said.
To facilitate the trip to Orlando, all three Schenectady Pop Warner teams are engaged in community fundraising. Teams organize car washes, pool tournaments and raffles to raise the necessary funds. The event will host a fundraiser on Saturday, November 27 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and at the Colony Center in Albany on November 28 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Participants may wish to win a 65″ television, a $100 Stewart gift card, or some other item.
“The girls are working tirelessly to raise money for the trip, but we are still behind. Some of these girls may not be in a position to travel out of state with their families, so we are trying our best to provide this opportunity for our girls. I myself am doing everything from making Go Fund Me to collecting cans and bottles for these girls. We need all the community support we can get, and we will make sure to give back,” Bredenko said
For more information on how to donate to the Schenectady-Belmont Cheerleading Program, visit https://gofund.me/15c7bba7,
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