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Mount and Joe’s Form Partnership

Dani Gugino wasn’t exactly sure what to expect. She just knew it would be a night to remember.

She was right.

On Dec. 13, Gugino and about 20 of her Mount St. Mary classmates had the unique opportunity to serve as the cheerleading team for the St. Joe’s varsity basketball team in their game against Health Sciences.

“It’s a lot of fun. Everyone is super excited about it and it’s a little nerve-wracking cause we haven’t done this in so long,” Gugino said. “But we’ve been working really hard on all of our cheers.”

It was the first time in nearly 20 years that the Marauders basketball team had a cheer squad in their corner on game day.

The last time a St. Joe’s basketball game featured a cheer squad was during the 1998-99 season. That cheer team was a blend of girls from the various WNY Catholic Schools.

This cheer team was composed entirely of Mount girls.

The partnership is a win-win. It gave the Mount cheer program a much needed shot in the arm. Last year’s numbers, less than eight, were so low Mount had to scrap plans to compete in travel cheer competitions.

So Mount athletic director Jim Pernick, a St. Joe’s alum, called Joe’s AD Brian Anken and pitched the idea of Mount girls cheering for the Marauders. Pernick thought a collaboration with his alma mater would benefit both schools as it expands the worlds of both student bodies to a new experience, while having a retro feel.

“They used cheer when I went here back in the 80s,” Pernick said. “Twenty years later we’re giving it a shot.”

Much more than just a novelty or a one time event. This was viewed as a major step forward in bringing the two members of the Monsignor Martin Athletic Association even closer.

The idea also helps give students from the all-girls Mount and Joe’s all-boys a chance to experience what some may refer to as a more complete or traditional high school sports experience.

“A lot of public schools get to do this and I never thought I’d be able to here,” Gugino said. “Cheering for the (Joe’s) boys basketball.”

Decked out in Marauder maroon and white, the Mount girls performed flips during time outs and an impressive halftime routine.

St. Joe’s athletic director Brian Anken feels that the addition of Mount cheerleaders brings another component to an already entertaining atmosphere that features the Rowdies fan base and their video score board.

This partnership could lead to a greater friendship and sense of support among the students of both schools.

Anken said the most exciting part of the Joe’s/Mount collaboration is that there really isn’t an end goal. It’s a blank slate that can be filled with multiple ideas. All with the goals of making Joe’s game day experience as memorable as possible.

“We have the best fans in WNY. Our Rowdies are unbelievable,” said Anken. “We want to try and pack the house every night. Give people a reason to come out and see the new (game day) product and what we’re trying to do.  When we received a call from Mount that they wanted to come out and cheer, it was a no brainer to me because I wanted as many people out to be a part of this as we could get.”

The pictures used in this article were provided courtesy of Mount St. Mary Academy.

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