The Schenectady High School football cheerleaders got the thrill of a lifetime on Jan. 2 when they performed at halftime of the Gator Bowl at Jacksonville, Florida.

"Everything went very well. The girls worked very hard throughout their practices and performances. Working with a professional choreographer exposed them to a different experience as well as working with over 140 other cheerleaders," said Amy Preston, football cheerleading advisor.

One of the highlights was meeting a team from Hawaii at the event who became good friends with the girls and exchanged information to become pen pals.

"They (Hawaii team) were so excited when telling us about their school day and practices and how different life is in Hawaii from in New York. Overall, I think that the girls made the best out of every event we participated in between the dinner dance, practices and our own team time. I am so proud of how they represented the Schenectady City School District and themselves as a team," said Preston.

Cheerleader Tyasia Hogan felt the best part of the trip was 'Game Day'. She also stated that "Hard work pays off and the team bonded from the experience. It was fun to meet new teams and watch other cheerleaders perform," she said.

Her teammate, Kelsie Voris had a similar feeling,

"The best part of the trip was hanging out as a team outside of practice and games especially being with coach. I learned that all teams are different," she said.

By the way, the University of Florida got the best of Ohio State, 24-17.

Schenectady schools athletic director Steve Boynton made the trip and felt it was a rewarding experience.

"The cheerleaders did an outstanding job. They truly represented themselves, the school and city at the highest level. They showed outstanding sportsmanship in working with the other cheerleading teams and even made a special connection with the team out of Hawaii. This was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and they took full advantage of experiencing each day to its fullest. I would like to also thank the coaches for all their hard work and dedication to this experience. We all have reason to be proud of our Patriot cheerleaders," he said.

Boynton and Preston wanted to thank the community for their support through the cheerleaders fundraising efforts.

As cheerleader Alissa Hill summed it up, "We learned about what other teams do to get better and thought about what we can do as a team."

Article by Mike Collar