Padua Academy won a state championship in March that flew a bit under the radar. The Pandas captured their fourth straight state cheerleading title at Smyrna High School on March 5.
The championship capped another successful campaign for the cheerleaders. They kicked off their competition season in the first week of February with a first-place showing at the Christiana High School Invitational, winning for best dance and best stunts. They also placed first in a competition at Dover High School and also at Cheer for Charity at the University of Delaware, an event that included 13 teams. Their fourth event, Reach the Beach in Ocean City, Md., resulted in a third-place showing, and they also took third in the Grand Finale in Virginia Beach, Va.
“I always tell my teams to do their best, smile and have fun. I don’t care where they place as long as they give me their best,” coach Maria Catalina said.
The varsity team, which included 27 members, was not the only success story from Smyrna. The junior varsity squad won its third state championship in the large division category.
This is the sixth year that Padua has sponsored cheerleading. It is a two-season sport, beginning in the summer with a camp where they learn their football halftime dances and new cheers and chants, according to Catalina. Padua provides cheerleaders for Salesianum football. After that concludes, the girls move into competition season.
“A lot of work went into building this program, and the girls deserve all the credit,” Catalina said.
When the squad started, she added, most of the girls had not cheered before, but now many have an extensive background in cheerleading.
The four seniors were the captains. They are Hannah Danz, Sydney Johnson, Victoria Spinelli and Giana Buoni, all of whom have been in the program for four years.