Medway/Millis Youth Cheer National Champions!

J. D. O’Gara
Shown are American Youth Cheer National Champions – Medway/Millis Youth Football and Cheer. Contributed photos.
Issue Date: 
January, 2020
Article Body: 

No other town in Massachusetts had two teams going, but Medway/Millis Youth Flag, Tackle, Football and Cheer, for the first time participating in the 2019 American Youth Cheer National Competition taking place December 14th, was sending both its 10U (3rd & 4th grade) and its 12U (5th & 6th grade) teams. Both rose to the top of their game that Saturday, and on Sunday, December 15th, they brought home the gold, EACH team winning their division’s national championship.
“This this proves anything is possible with hard work and effort. I love my team and am so proud of where we’ve come.” Jillian Bartel, 6th Grade on 12U.
The teams belong to the Eastern Massachusetts American League, which is made up of 20 towns. Both teams soared to the top of this division, which held its local competition in Bellingham. From there, the girls advanced to the state tournaments. All four teams at Medway/Millis Youth Flag, Tackle Football & Cheer advanced to states, but the 12U and 10U teams made it to the regional level, competing with teams from Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Connecticut at Lowell’s Tsongas Arena. To make it to nationals, the teams had to place in the top three teams in their divisions, and both made it.
It was a dream come true.
“I had the opportunity to be there at the Tsongas arena in Lowell, and it was just so cool. Just looking at the parents’ faces, and the grandparents, and the friends that were just jumping up and down, crying, watching the girls. All this hard work, all this dedication, all the effort, and they were going to Florida,” says Aileen Green, President of the nonprofit organization.
Green describes the dual community program as really unique, and as a part of bridging the two communities, “we stress a sense of family,” says Green. “It doesn’t matter where you come from, if you cheer, if you play flag or tackle football, we’re all family.”
Tina Oster, cheer mom to her daughter Nicole who is in 5th grade, backs that sentiment. “We are two small towns, yet we have tremendous pride. Our girls have humbly and passionately ‘taken the mat,’ proudly wearing their navy blue and white. They have represented their small towns in a big way,” she says.
That family supported their team in a big way. While parent chaperones did go down to assist the young cheerleaders, not all the parents, other relatives and friends could head down to the sunny state, so back in Medway, supporters held a watch party at the Medway V.F.W. live streaming the event. When the girls made it to Sunday’s competition, the fans moved to Mickey Cassidy’s.
A major part of the team’s success is Head Coach and the program’s Cheer Coordinator. Kayla Ober, who is a long-time Medway resident and former Captain of the Medway High School Cheer team.
Ober touts the girls’ “absolute focus and determination. Each and every practice, they work harder than the last. I can see how much they want to do well, not only for themselves, but for their entire team. This makes me the proudest coach.”
The girls began their season in August, practicing four times a week before school started, then twice a week plus games.
“It really has been an incredible year. To see so many new faces when practices started up in the summer you really had no idea what would happen. Luckily, they came together seamlessly and worked so hard to be a team in every sense of the word, coaches included. It’s been so fun to watch the girls become a national caliber team, and I’m just so proud of them,” said Cheer Mom, Katie Tracy, daughter Kallie (3rd 10U)
Green, herself the mother of paternal twins and stepmother of a son, got her children involved in the program when her daughter, then in 2nd grade, told her she wanted to cheer, and her son wanted to play baseball/football. “Because they were both in the program, I knew I wanted to volunteer. It was kind of natural,” says Green.
“It has been incredible to watch (my daughter) and her teammates grow and develop not only as athletes, but strong young ladies under Kayla’s leadership. I am so proud of the hard work and dedication all of the girls and coaches put forward to achieve (their) success … We couldn’t be more proud of our girls and the support from our combined community,” said Cheer Mom Tina Bartel, daughter Jillian Bartel (6th 12U)
You can still help the team with a donation! Medway Youth Football & Cheer is a nonprofit. Green explained that the program paid a portion of the costs to attend nationals, but “the rest of it was on them to fundraise,” she said. “And they did an amazing job.” Fundraising efforts included canning in both towns, as well as holiday raffles for a Tom Brady New England Patriots jersey and a Medway Youth Football helmet with Brady’s signature.
“Moving forward, even post Florida, they are still going to be collecting donations and still have to fundraise,” says Green. You can click links to support the cheerleaders at the Medway Youth Football & Cheer website, or visit