“3 PFCA teams trained by All Fitness Customized Training win their divisions at the National Competition: Reach the Beach.”

“3 PFCA teams trained by All Fitness Customized Training win their divisions at the National Competition: Reach the Beach.”

Pennsbury High School cheerleading is one of the most established programs in the country, but everything begins with the PFCA.

The PFCA is a cheerleading program founded by Suzy Buehler. She said she started the organization because of her daughter Lindsay. Lindsay then cheered for Penn State and is now back as a chore0grapher.

Currently, the PFCA has two co-presidents: Jill Yeger and Melissa Vitucci.

The Pee Wee team consists of members between first and fourth grade; JV: fourth through sixth and varsity: seventh through ninth.

Terri Miller coaches the Pee-Wee team. She said she stresses four things with her girls: Be a good listener, give 100 percent, always smile and have fun.

“I love the girls,” Miller said. “I’m a pre-school teacher and I just love working with young girls.”

In the major sports, having a “star” player puts you ahead of other teams. In the NBA, you give the basketball to LeBron James and tell everyone to get out of his way. No one wins in the NFL without a quarterback, and in baseball, chicks dig the long ball. In cheerleading, you win as a team and lose as a team.

“Cheerleading is the one sport which is a team sport. You need everyone to be there or it’s affected. If one person is missing, it affects the whole squad. There’s no individual awards,” Miller said.

Even when a girl is sick, they still must attend practice to take in as much information as they can. Cheerleading requires a huge time commitment.

“You have to love it,” Miller said. “It’s usually three days a week. Practice is two nights during the week and once every Saturday. Once January comes around, we’re in competitions every week.”

Each PFCA squad has one routine.

“We have tryouts in April/May. Lindsay Buehler is our choreographor and in October we’ll start. We make it more difficult and we adapt to how the judge’s critique and criticize. We’re constantly changing,” Miller said.

At the Reach the Beach cheerleading event, JV coach Lynn Dixon won the Coach of the Year Award.

“It was a total surprise,” Dixon said. “It was awesome and such an honor. These great people around me nominated me, and I couldn’t do it without them. I can’t say that I’m the only one who kills myself around here because all of these people are amazing. And the kids have given me a great opportunity to coach them and have fun. I’m a teacher.”

Like any great teacher, the goal is to not only share knowledge, but also make it fun. Coach Dixon has two awards: the Golden Flipper and the Radical Ribbon. Dixon said it gives the girls something to strive for.

Dixon first spoke about the Golden Flipper.

“It’s just something silly and fun,” Dixon said. “It’s an old swim fin, and it has something to do with tumbling. They seem to be very motivated to work on their tumbling passes to get it. The girls all sign it and it gets given away at the end of the season and with the rest of the trophies,”

Next, Dixon spoke about the Radical Ribbon.

“It’s an incentive to keep them pushing each other in a positive way,” Dixon said. “The Radical Ribbon goes to the person who exhibited the most energy, effort, sportsmanship and leadership. Anyone who has exemplified a positive attitude.”

At the Reach the Beach competition — for the first time in PFCA history — all three squads, Pee Wee, JV and Varsity all finished first in their respective divisions.

The pressure on the varsity was immense.

“We were the last one’s to win it,” varsity coach Miki McPherson-Brooks said. “You want it for the girls. And when they won, you know that you did your job.”

The Pee Wee and JV teams had already won their divisions. At 10:30 p.m., after a long day of cheering since 8 a.m., the varsity squad finally had their chance to shine as the other Pennsbury squads watched on.

The JV team earned an automatic entry into the US Finals competition. It’s a huge accomplishment to make the “Final Four” out of 68 teams in the NCAA Basketball Tournament. The JV team finished third out of 144 teams — a magnificent achievement.

The family-like environment makes it difficult for any former member of the PFCA program to leave.

“I think what’s important is when the girls leave. They want to come back and be a part of the organization after they’re done in ninth grade. You never want to leave,” Miller said.

Each squad has student coaches.

The Pee Wee coaches consist of Sarah Miller, Allison Auletta and Chandler Ford.

The JV student assistants are Melissa Petty, Elizabeth Petty and Sarah Lustig.

Morgan Buehler and Jada McPherson make up the Varsity student assistants.

Even the dads of the girls get involved. Coach Miller spoke about the evolution of the cheerdad.

“It started in a parking lot down in Williamsburg, Va. when they went to their first national competition. They were sitting around on a Saturday night and decided to do a performance. I believe it was Phil Buehler and Eric Carlson who started it,” Miller said.

The PFCA has it all, and there’s no surprise why their success rate is so high. They earned it!

By Adrian Fedkiw

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