Hawks win NVL co-ed cheer title

The Woodland cheerleading team won the Naugatuck Valley League co-ed division championship Feb. 22 at Crosby High School in Waterbury. –CONTRIBUTED

WATERBURY — The Woodland cheerleading team enjoyed its first Naugatuck Valley League championship last year so much that the Hawks decided to do it again.

Woodland repeated as champions of the NVL’s co-ed division, beating three other squads at the league championships Feb. 22 at Crosby High.

“It feels so good,” said Woodland’s Emily Orzechowski, who is a co-captain along with Amanda Garofalo. “All the hard work you put in over the season, it’s good to know that it’s paying off. Especially winning back to back, it’s good to know that you’re making a name for yourself.”

Orzechowski said the Hawks “took the title by quite a lot” thanks in part to a strenuous training program over the last few months with coach Chelsea Maza.

“We have three-hour practices three days a week,” she said. “It’s just a lot of hard work — a lot of stunting, a lot of tumbling, a lot of conditioning. We go in the weight room a lot.”

All 16 NVL schools, including Naugatuck, competed. There were four squads in the co-ed division and a dozen in the all-girls division, which was won by Wolcott.

Woodland has its sights set on the state championships, which are scheduled for Saturday. In last year’s co-ed division, the Hawks finished 10th and Naugy placed 16th in the 16-team field. The best finish in Woodland cheer history was fourth place at the 2010 Class S meet.

“We’re hoping for top five,” Orzechowski said. “It’s looking pretty good this year.”