Norwood Cheer Captains Lead the Way

Christopher Tremblay
Issue Date: 
November, 2017
Article Body: 

Last fall, the Norwood girls cheerleading team went to the National Competition and finished third in the Division 2 bracket, while Franklin’s interim, Coach Amy Murphy, guided the Panthers to a Division 1 National championship. Murphy has since taken the reigns of the Mustangs cheerleading team and is looking to get the squad back to the Nationals once again this season. However, in order to do so, she is going to rely heavily on the squad’s captains, Ali Harkins and Keri McCarthy.
“Being a new coach here I was able to see that the team is fundamentally sound, but I needed some help,” the first year Norwood Coach said. “Ali and Keri gave me the lay of the land. These girls are not only hard working, but they are role models to the younger girls on the team. We even have a few freshman that they have taken under their wings.”
The two girls have both been involved in cheering since a young age, but in different aspects. Harkins was also a gymnast and she enjoys the tumbling aspect of the squad’s routine, while McCarthy likes to been in the air as a flyer.
While they are both enjoying success now, things were not always so.
“My freshman year was kind of scary, being on such a high caliber team with a lot of talented girls," Harkins said.
McCarthy, who got involved in cheering because of her older sister Kristi, also found that first year nerve wracking.
“High school was definitely different than what I was used to,” McCarthy said. “It was very intimidating, but I was able to settle down because my sister was on the team and I learned a lot from her and her friends. Having her there made me a lot more comfortable as an incoming freshman.”
Last fall, the girls were part of the Norwood squad that got to participate in the National Competition and both found it a positive experience.
“Nationals was exciting and new as we had never been there before,” Harkins said. “People didn’t really realize how hard we worked to get there. They just thought that we cheered for the football team.”
McCarthy echoed her teammate’s words.
“The people of Norwood finally realized that we were more than just a group of girls cheering at football games,” McCarthy said. “I don’t think people realized how good we actually were until we made it to the Nationals.”
This year as elected by their peers to be captains, Harkins and McCarthy are looking to bring Norwood back to the Nationals once again while putting their school on the map.
“This team has come such a long way since freshman year," McCarthy said. "The team unity wasn’t there in the beginning and we were not as close as a team. Being elected as captain was very exciting, especially to be able to do it with Ali, my best friend since kindergarten. I want to be a good role model to the team and help them through whatever they need.”
Through their four years the entire cheerleading team has grown, evident in coming together last season and advancing to the Nationals. As captains they definitely want to get back to Nationals and improve upon their third place finish.
“As a freshman, I don’t think this team was recognized, but through the years we’ve worked hard to improve,” Harkins said. “I feel I worked hard over the last few years and being named captain is an exciting honor. I want to show them that it was deserved and lead this team to continue to be successful and get back to the Nationals.”
As someone who has won a championship on the National level, Coach Murphy is looking to uphold the standards at Norwood.
“As a first year coach there is a little pressure, and our goal is without a doubt to win a National Title,” the Mustang Coach said. “Norwood is a much smaller squad than what I had to work with at Franklin, but these girls are focused and determined to do well, and they will.”
While the Norwood squad awaits the first Invitational of the season, the girls will continue to cheer on the football team on game day, and work hard on getting back to the Nationals the rest of the week. Along with their new coach, Captains Harkins and McCarthy will have a lot to do with the team’s success.