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Battered, Bruised But Not Beaten: Tewksbury High Cheer Team Takes Aim At State Title

Nov 22, 2015 01:15AM ● By Bill Gilman

Tewksbury High celebrates its North Sectional Championshio

Brenna Kaiser's knees show the ravages of Osgood-Schlatter

  In the late stages of the season, as a team battles its way through the sectionals and takes aim at a State Championship, injuries become as much of an obstacle to overcome as the opposition.
Some injuries are minor -- bumps and bruises, ankle sprains. Others are more serious -- knee injuries, concussions, broken bones, back injuries.
But if a team wants to claim a championship trophy, it needs to have the grit, and the depth, to fight through injuries and, in many cases, play through the pain.
This is true for football teams, soccer teams ... cheering teams.
The Tewksbury High cheer team is at Algonquin Regional High School in Northboro for the State Championships. The Redmen, who successfully defended their North Sectional title last weekend, are seeded fourth among eight teams competing in the Small School Co-Ed Division. Coach Kim Doherty knows that improving on, or even matching, the team's 2nd place finish at both the Fall and Winter State Championships last year will be a challenge.
"Last year our focus was 'win the states, win the states,' and I think that got in our heads a little bit," said Doherty. "We just want to go out and do our best routine and be able to know, when we come off the mat, that we did the absolute best we are capable of doing."
Doherty may want to consider asking Tylenol to be an official sponsor for her team this year because several of her cheerleaders are either nursing significant injuries or, like Justin Petrie, are still rehabbing from an injury. Petrie missed the entire 2014-15 after having surgery to repair a torn ACL. Senior Captain Heather Doyle is fighting through a painful foot injury, while a teammate has fractures in her back.
But none of these injuries will keep any of the cheerleaders from competing Sunday.
"These girls are just so tough," said Doherty. "You give them a choice if they want to sit out a meet and they say, 'no way, I just want to compete.' Like I said, they're just tough. I have so much respect for the team."
Of the team's injuries, the knee injuries of freshman Brenna Kaiser may be the most serious. Three years ago, Kaiser was diagnosed with Osgood Schlatter disease. Osgood-Schlatter can hit adolescents, mostly boys, and is connected to growth spurts. Symptoms include intense knee pain and a lump below the knee cap. In Brenna's case, the condition has steadily worsened because of her high intensity cheerleading activities.
Eventually, Kaiser will need surgery on both knees. It will put her on the disabled list for at least a few months. Doctors would like to do the surgery now but Kaiser is opting to treat the pain with an OTC pain killer but Kaiser is putting it off until the end of the competition season.
"There's the winter season and then the ECEJ5 (club team) competition season," she said. "I'm looking at having it done maybe in May."
Such is the competitive fire and iron will of these Tewksbury High Cheerleaders.
In addition to a State Championship, Tewksbury will also be competing for a coveted bid to the Nationals. The team earned its first-ever trip to Nationals last year, finishing in the Top 10.
To earn a return trip, the team would have to either place 1st or 2nd or achieve as score of 176.

2015 Tewksbury High Cheer Team
Captain Heather Doyle
Captain Elisa Madden
Captain Justin Petrie
Captain Julia Winn
Nicole Broderick
Christine Connelly
Leah Fanning
Cathy Bozek 
Kendyl Spinelli
Danielle Souza
Sara Clapp
Lauren Lamoureux 
Samantha Schultz
Brenna Kaiser
Jenna Wentworth

To help inspire her athletes, Doherty produced the video below.

TMHS cheering squad aims at state title

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