According to district policy, “a faculty advisor will be appointed to supervise the activity according to school rules and regulations” for all student organizations or extracurricular activities.
Breen is not a district employee. She is studying at UAlbany for her master’s degree in education policies and said it is her understanding the state usually allows an outsider to instruct extracurricular activities if they are more qualified.
“I’m really offended,” said Breen. “The girls are also really upset and a lot are not cheering this year, which is sad because a lot are seniors.”
Parent Teresa Ferrara said she is upset by the situation, as is her daughter Brianna, a junior. She has cheered both years the program has been considered a club.
Ferrara said Breen did a good job of keeping the essence of cheerleading despite the restrictions that came with being a club. Tryouts were still held last year and professional cheerleaders came in to score the girls. Breen was not involved in the process, but cuts were made. Since the program is now a club and all students are usually allowed to join clubs, it is not clear if tryouts will be held again.
“What kind of message are we sending to the children of this district if we let this happen?” said Ferrara. “The girls were just starting to feel good about themselves. A lot of people don’t feel cheerleading is a sport, but it is. It’s just as demanding.”
Ferrara said she is working on a plan to have cheerleading funded by a parent booster club, much like the district’s hockey team is largely supported by a booster group.
Meanwhile, Breen and members of the team are left wondering why a change was made in the first place. Sydney Hickey, a cheerleader going into her senior year, told the BC school board Breen had been a great benefit to the program.
“Teachers and students approached a lot of us and told us how much better we’ve gotten, and they have respect for us now,” she said.
“I had great reviews. I don’t know where the disconnect was,” Breen said. “I have coached cheerleading for 10 years. I left Shenendehowa to coach here because it is where I’m from. … The situation just feels low. After cutting their funding, changing it from a sport and cutting JV, this is like kicking them while they were down.”