Cheerleaders in the Poland Central School District were never taken seriously, but now, they're champions.

There have always been cheerleaders at the high school in Poland, but, according to their coach, "cheerleaders were never taken seriously. They would get mocked and made fun of." In fact, the downtrodden squad hadn't entered a competition since 1997.

That changed last year when Alicia Guarascio took over as Head Coach for the squad. She explains that she started with just 9 girls on the team, and took them to competition. Each time, the team finished last, "but that did not matter to these girls. This year I added Kelly Bick as my assistant coach. We had 16 girls total and took 12 to competition.  Again we started out in last place but which each competition they improved their score by 15 points and from last place to 4th and now we are Center State Conference Champs."

Credit: Alicia Guarascio

The girls beat several teams to earn the title of Center State Champions, but most importantly, they learned the importance of hard work and never giving up.

Alicia explains that she is so proud of the girls that went from being made fun of to champions: "They continued their hard work and with that determination in their hearts they became winners and respected athletes."

Congratulations to Alicia, Kelly, and the entire cheerleading squad.