The dance routines, glittered eyes, ponytails and gymnastic tumbling at Schenectady High School gave alumna Edwina Kaliku a sense of home.
“Kind of feels like you never left,” said Kaliku, who would have been found cheering at the Pat Riley Center at Schenectady High School 10 years ago.
The 2001 SHS graduate went for an open call audition for the Miami Heat in July and beat out more than 300 women to become one of the select 25 on the team, bumping even an existing member.
What she learned while dancing under the high school’s former coach, Meegan Mostransky, prepared her for the weeklong audition, she said.
“This place really shaped who I am,” said Kaliku, who was a judge at the Midnight Madness Cheerleading and Dance Competition at the high school on Saturday. The event drew more than 30 local cheer groups representing nearly 900 students and their families. Dancers from local all-star teams also competed at the event, which ran Saturday from 5 p.m. to midnight.
Mostransky said being in an athletic sport like cheerleading and dance helps the participants learn lessons of teamwork, hard work and commitment that follow them through life, in school and in their relationships.
“Being able to compete in a large arena is important,” Mostransky said. “It allows them to show off their talent.”
Parents of competitors were yelling from bleachers, clapping their hands, and giving hugs of encouragement.
Frank Antalek of Saratoga Springs watched in support of his 14-year-old daughter Tessa, who cheers for the Triple Threat All Stars team.