Preston High School cheerleaders make dream of competing at Nationals come true

Bronx Times
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“In order to achieve your dreams, all you need is faith, trust and a little pixie dust,” quoted Preston High School senior and cheerleading captain Brianna Finelli, during her speech at a showcase the team held for family and friends on Tuesday, February 7.

In true-fairy tale fashion, the Preston High School Panthers will head off to Disney World in Orlando, Florida to compete in the National high school cheerleading competition, a dream come true according to the girls.

For the team, along with their coaches Lori Finelli and John Braca, receiving an invitation to nationals was an unprecedented milestone as they are the first team in the school’s history to qualify and attend.

The ‘Cinderella team’ received their qualifying spot by competing in the Universal Cheerleaders Association regional competition at Hofstra University in April of last year against teams from New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut.

“For the last four years, I’ve had the honor of being on the most incredible cheerleading team in Preston’s history, and this year, these 11 girls and I, along with our phenomenal coaches made our dream of getting a bid to nationals a reality and I can not express how proud I am,” Brianna Finelli said. “Competing at nationals in Disney World is every cheerleader’s dream and getting there is a lot easier for some than others; let’s just say getting there was not easy for us.”

The best feeling in the world, according to Brianna Finelli, was when she heard the announcer at the regional competition say her team would be heading to nationals.

“When Preston High School was announced, I felt accomplish­ed,” she said.

All of the funds needed for the team to travel to Orlando was raised by the girls who held various fund raisers throughout the year.

“We got sponsors, sold wreaths at Christmas time, and we made just enough to pay for our trip to nationals,” Coach Lori Finelli said. Head coach John Braca said it has been his dream as well as the girls’ to get a chance to compete in the national competition.

“This is my fourth year coaching at Preston, and I have watched these girls grow into amazing and talented individuals,” Braca said. “I’m their biggest supporter and have always believed in them. I am proud to say I coached them.”

The girls expressed the same admiration Braca expressed for them during their speeches on Tuesday night.

“Johnny is such a great person and coach,” Preston High School junior Francesca Primiani said. “When we hurt, he hurts, when we laugh, he laughs, when we cry, he cries, and when we sweat, he really sweats. He can understand us like no other because he knows how to bring out the inner person that we are. I couldn’t ask for a better coach to bring us down to nationals.”

Updated 10:15 am, February 22, 2012
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