SCHENECTADY — Three teams from Schenectady’s Pop Warner Cheerleading program have qualified to compete at the 2021 Pop Warner Nationals in Orlando, Florida.
The Schenectady-Belmont Cheerleading Program is the only Capital Region cheerleading organization sending three teams to this year’s national competition.
“We are tremendously proud of all of our girls for accomplishing this feat. We began the year struggling to find an adequate practice location and practice time due to Covid-19 restrictions. It is amazing to see how far we’ve come. I cannot tell you how hard these girls have worked for this,” said Alysha Bredenko, assistant coach of the Schenectady Pop Warner Varsity team.
Bredenko’s team had an impressive competition run in order to earn a national berth. The Schenectady Pop Warner Varsity team placed first in the region’s local competition, state competition, and the Eastern Region Competition held in Trenton, New Jersey. The varsity girls plan to continue their Cinderella run at this year’s national meet.
“For most of these girls this is their first time cheerleading and of course the first time most of them have the opportunity to go to nationals. We have a great team and a great routine.
Since Jersey, we have been adding skills to our routine to compete with these other teams that have been here before. Our girls are very dedicated and want it just as bad as anyone else,” said Bredenko.
This is Bredenko’s first time taking one of her teams to the national stage. However, she has been actively learning the recipe for success from her mother, the varsity team’s head coach and program coordinator.
“My mom has been coaching for Pop Warner for about 20 years. Since June she has spent time working on something for the program every day of the week. She loves coaching and she loves these girls. This isn’t the first team she’s taken to nationals and it surely won’t be her last. She’s the very best at what she does and is a true pillar of the community,” said Bredenko.
Along with the varsity team, Schenectady Belmont’s “Mitey Mite” and “Tiny Mite” teams have also earned a spot to compete at nationals. The Mitey Mite team placed fourth at the Eastern Regional competition and is comprised of girls from the ages of seven to nine. The Tiny Mite team is the youngest of three and is made up of girls from the ages of five to six. Due to stellar performance by the Tiny Mite team, they received an invitation to attend the national competition.
“Our girls are very dedicated and want it as badly as we want it. It’s great that we have a winning team, but we are very lucky and blessed to have our younger teams here to support us. The varsity team gives the younger girls something to look up to,” said Bredenko.
Bredenko is extremely proud of the girl’s accomplishments, yet competition is not the sole mission of the organization.
“We hear a lot of negativity about Schenectady and we are looking to change that. We have created a safe and fun environment for the girls, and are always looking to improve. This program is special as our girls not only learn cheerleading, but how to communicate, persevere, and be a friend. Our motto is ‘one team one family’ and we truly are,” said Bredenko.
In order to facilitate the trip to Orlando, all three Schenectady Pop Warner teams have engaged in community fundraising. The teams have held car washes, pool tournaments and raffles to raise the necessary funds. The program will be hosting a fundraiser from 10 a.m to 8 p.m. on Saturday Nov. 27 and 11 a.m to 6 p.m. on Nov. 28, at Colonie Center in Albany.
Participants can look to win a 65” television, a $100 Stewarts gift card, or some other items.
“The girls have been working tirelessly to raise money for the trip, but we are still behind. Some of these girls may not be in the position to travel outside the state with their families, so we are desperately trying to provide this opportunity for our girls. I myself have been doing everything from creating a Go Fund Me to collecting cans and bottles for these girls. We need all the community support we can get, and we will make sure to give back,” said Bredenko
For more information on how to donate to the Schenectady-Belmont Cheerleading Program, visit https://gofund.me/15c7bba7.