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Creating a champion

Biddeford Graduate from the class of 2016 Olivia Souliere moved on to bigger and better things, including a national Division I cheering title.

Conlon Kane, Staff Writer

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Biddeford Graduate from the class of 2016 Olivia Souliere moved on to bigger and better things, including a national Division I cheering title. 

After leaving the halls of Biddeford High, Souliere began her studies at the University of New Hampshire.  Along with taking on her new course load, she began her career as a collegiate cheerleader. Starting in September, Souliere had practices two days a week for three hours a practice – a difficult schedule to balance with college life.  But for Souliere, cheering did not begin in college.

“I started cheering in second grade,” said Souliere. “I started because my mom was a cheerleader and all of my friends were cheering too.”

Cheering has been no small commitment for parents Mike and Lori Souliere.  Each and every weekend through competition season for both of their daughters, Olivia and Alli, their lives have been put on hold so that both girls could cheer.  

“It’s about them every weekend: everything gets pushed aside, the business, Mike’s hockey, everything,” Souliere’s mom, Lori, said.

From a parent’s perspective, cheering competitions have their own stresses.  Along with the stress of seeing a child perform, parents have to deal with the added stress of other parents screaming.  Like most sporting events, the fans at a cheering event scream every sort of validation they can think of at their children – even when it’s totally wrong.  Souliere’s mom is especially proud of the effect both girls have had on each other’s cheering.  Souliere is especially thankful for her sister’s impact on her.

“I’m just really glad to have gotten the chance to cheer with her,” said Souliere.  “She really pushed me throughout my cheerleading career and I couldn’t be more thankful for everything.”

The most difficult thing for a cheering coach to teach, according to her mom who was a cheering coach herself, is tumbling; something Souliere has been doing since she was very young.  Before beginning her career in competitive cheering, she was a competitive gymnast.  With floor routines in gymnastics being inherently similar to cheering routines, this gave Souliere an early leg up.

“It definitely helped her and I know it helped her time management-wise; she knows she has to get her homework done first and everything else is second,” Souliere’s mom said.

For any student athlete, balancing homework and practices is a challenge, but through high school there were times that Souliere not only balanced homework and practice for one team, but three.  However; all of her training prepared her well for college cheering.

“I feel like if I’m busy I feel more organized and it definitely keeps me in shape.  Being in school and being an athlete keeps me busy,” said Souliere.  “I find the busier I am the more organized and less stressed I am because I never feel like I’m being lazy.  The advice I would give is to make sure to keep all of your grades up but to also make sure to keep up a social life.”

As a freshman competing at the Division I level, Souliere was fortunate to find a second family in her cheering team at UNH.  With this also comes an added amount of pressure to perform even better than usual.  On the day of the National Cheering Association’s national competition, the teams prepared the same as usual.  They start off by stretching, then move on to warming up on tumbling mats, then a stunting mat, then a full run-through of their routine.  

“I really only felt the pressure right before we went out to perform,” Souliere said.

Preparation is only half the battle.  Once it was Souliere’s team’s turn to perform, they only had 135 seconds to showcase their hard work.  After their performance, each cheer team had to wait to find out what place they came in.  When the results were announced, Souliere was shocked.

“Honestly, I was so confused I instantly started crying and was so shocked but happy; it was such a great feeling.”

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The student news site of Biddeford High School in Biddeford, Maine
Creating a champion