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Courtney Weisse will be taking the reins of Valley Regional’s first cheerleading program in more than a decade this fall. Courtney has been the head coach of the Old Saybrook- Westbrook co-op cheer team for the past 11 years. (Photo courtesy of Courtney Weisse )
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Courtney Weisse’s enthusiasm for the sport of cheerleading has no bounds. This fall, Courtney is taking the helm of the first cheerleading team at Valley Regional High School in more than a decade. Courtney has been the head coach of the Old Saybrook-Westbrook cheerleading team for the past 11 years. Now, she’s going to be using her expertise to help the Warriors’ cheer team get back on its feet.
Courtney has a strong background in cheerleading after having served as a captain for the team at Westbrook High School, where she earned some impressive accolades. After graduating from Westbrook, Courtney honed her competitive edge by cheering at Delaware Valley College before returning home to finish her degree at Southern Connecticut State University.
“I cheered all four years in high school. I was captain my junior and senior years, and I was also nominated All-American,” says Courtney. “After that, I attended Delaware Valley College in Pennsylvania, and that’s where I got my big taste of competitive cheerleading. When I cheered for two years at the college, that helped my passion for the sport grow even more.”
After finishing up her cheer career, Courtney moved on to a coaching role with the Old Saybrook-Westbrook co-op squad. As the team’s coach, Courtney has helped several athletes reach their potential on the mat.
“I had one girl, Maddison Reyes, make All-State twice and a few kids make All-Shoreline Conference. Obviously, pride is the first thing I feel in an instance like that,” Courtney says. “They have banners in the gym for each sport with athletes’ names when they make All-State. It was nice to get cheerleading a name out there. It recognizes the sport more. It gives me the satisfaction that I’m doing a good job, and that we can reach the goals that we set up.”
Courtney wants to help the Valley cheer team progress to a level where its athletes can compete in meets, but the first step is to reestablish the program. Then, the Warriors will ideally be competing in the Shoreline Conference in the near future.
“Right now, since this is a brand-new program with Valley, we’re going to focus on the fall season. And with the girls just having the fall season and no winter season, they can’t compete,” says Courtney, who lives in Chester. “It is our hope to grow the program. The competition aspect is one of my favorite things, so I would love to see Valley get to that level, too.”
Courtney is looking to impart the skills that her athletes need to put on a great show come game time. She’s already learned so much by working with a team that has little experience under its belt. As the first game of the football season approaches, the Warriors are ramping up their practices to prepare for the Friday night lights.
“With the Valley girls, I said to them at practice that they are teaching me stuff, and I am hopefully teaching them stuff. We’ve started higher level stunting than they’re used to. I want the fans to see that this is a high school team and not a youth team,” Courtney says. “The girls are super excited because we’re there cheering on the guys. I’m excited to have football games under the lights, because we don’t have that at Saybrook.”
The Warriors’ first football game will have some extra juice for Courtney when Valley Regional- Old Lyme goes up against Morgan. As a Westbrook native, Courtney has always felt a bit of a rivalry with the Huskies.
“With our first game being against Morgan, I know they’re top-notch. Morgan has always been my rival growing up in Westbrook. Even though we’re technically not competing against them, we want to show our best,” says Courtney. “We’re polishing up our cheers and stunts for our halftime routine. The last half hour of practice, I invite parents, friends, and other fans, and we run the practice as if we’re at a game. Hopefully, that sets the girls up for success. It’s good to get the nerves out and ask questions afterward, so when it comes to the game, they’re prepared.”
Valley Regional Athletic Director Jeff Swan is happy to see cheerleading return to the school. Swan thinks that Courtney brings the energy that a burgeoning program needs to get off the ground.
“I’m super excited for cheer this year at our football games,” Swan says. “Courtney brings experience, enthusiasm, and tons of ideas to a program that has been absent for over 10 years. We are very excited to have her on board.”
Courtney hopes the Valley cheer program continues drawing interest from the community. Local interest is what creates the pipeline of athletes that allows any team to be competitive—and cheerleading is no different.
“The Valley team is a lot of freshmen, and I told them that we have a four-year plan for them to be competing at a high level. I would love to see Valley go into a basketball season next year, so we can go into the competitions,” Courtney says. “There’s so much buzz in the tri-town area about this new team. I hope my girls see it. We have the support of the community and, when it comes to cheerleading, that’s all you can ask for.”
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