This is a printer-friendly version of an article from Zip06.com.Article Published December 7, 2018
Olivia DelBasso first took an interest in cheerleading after attending her older brother Dom’s football games when she was eight years old. Olivia joined the East Haven cheer team in middle school, and she hasn’t looked back since. Now a senior at the high school, Olivia is one of the leaders for the Yellowjackets’ cheerleading squad.
“My brother played youth football, and a bunch of the sisters made a pep squad where we did little stunts and things,” Olivia says. “In middle school, I tried out for cheer and made it, and it was fun. In 7th and 8th grade, I was captain, and that’s when I got more involved.”
Olivia has been a flier from the time she began cheerleading. Olivia had a lot to learn, but she worked at it, and her passion for being a flier started to soar.
“The older girls would put me up in the air. I didn’t know what I was doing, but ever since then, I’ve been a flier. I looked at it as fun,” says Olivia. “Once I got on the team, I started learning the technique of being a flier and what it really took. I love it, and it’s my favorite.”
Olivia spends plenty of time practicing her craft as a flier. She works on variety of techniques based on the teammates who are catching her during a given routine.
“I’ve been doing it since such a young age, so that definitely helps. We’ve also had people come in and give us tips, and that really helped a lot,” Olivia says. “It’s also learning who is underneath you. Based on who your bases or backs are, you need to balance your weight and pull up. A lot of different things go in it.”
Olivia is a National Honor Society member and the president of her senior class at East Haven High School. She’s also a senior captain for the cheerleading team. Head Coach Michelle Maru says that Olivia gives everything she has on the mat for the Yellowjackets.
“Olivia is truly the definition of a leader. She works hard at every practice and is always pushing herself and other members of the team. Every year, she has improved her technique and abilities. She is also someone the other members look up to and someone everyone can get along with,” says Maru. “Besides being a great leader, she is also an outstanding performer. When watching the routines, she is someone your eye is drawn to. She strives on being the best she can.”
Olivia enjoyed leading her team when she served as a captain in middle school. She likes being a leader even more now that she’s a senior captain with the high-school squad. Olivia knows that it’s important to make sure everyone on the team feels included and stays positive.
“I feel like I can mentor the underclassmen by having a positive attitude. I like making it more enjoyable for everybody. That’s how I view my captaincy. I never make myself feel superior. I want to help everybody,” says Olivia. “I just try to have a positive attitude with everything. I’m always optimistic and always look at the glass half-full. With a negative attitude, you’re never getting anywhere in life. I think you need to work hard because, if you put in the work, you’ll get a good outcome.”
As much as Olivia likes cheering on East Haven’s football and basketball teams, she’s always eager for the cheerleading team to begin its competition season. Olivia says that the Class M State Championship is her favorite event of the campaign.
“It’s the most exciting part of our year. It’s the season where we focus on ourselves and show off all the hard work we’ve been putting it. The adrenaline going out there is great,” she says. “I like states, because it’s when everyone in our division comes together. I think it’s the most competitive competition. I’m a competitive person, so that’s why it’s my favorite.”
Olivia says she’s happy to see how cheerleading has grown in popularity during recent years. Olivia feels it’s an honor that she gets to be a part of that growth in East Haven.
“Cheer has become bigger and developed so much where people are starting to notice it more. I think it’s an amazing sport,” says Olivia. “It’s a great thing that I could help be a positive attitude by having enthusiasm every time I cheer.”