By Jeff Odom
Steinbrenner cheerleading coach Allison Ennis wants to create something greater than a winning tradition — stability at the top.
Ennis, a Saint Leo University graduate, is the Warriors’ third coach in as many seasons. She joined the school as a sports marketing instructor this year after working with the New York Yankees. She said the team has been great to her, making the transition into her new role easier.
“It’s been a little stressful as I’m a first-year coach and teacher all at the same time,” Ennis said. “I’m totally new to the entire teaching profession, and it’s been a little difficult on that end getting acclimated to everything. But we have some great girls with a lot of talent to spare.”
Steinbrenner, which finished as the Class 2A state runner-up in the medium division last season, has plenty of expectations this year.
“We have a lot of seniors, and this is their shot at states after getting so close last year,” Ennis said. “I can see they have a lot of that drive and determination and … we’ve got a lot of seniors, and we have a lot of girls where this is their last shot, and we’re definitely going to give a little more.”
Despite losing key seniors Megan Lynn and Mallory Booth, who now cheers at the University of South Florida, the squad does return plenty of leadership this season, including seniors Jessica Brewer, Lizz Brechner, Kara Wabbersen, Chelsea Melvin and Kori Fick.
Fick, who has been with the team since the school opened in 2009, said it’s going to take a lot more work to repeat last season’s success and possibly take one step higher for the state title.
“We have to practice harder,” Fick said. “I just want to win. It’s going to take a lot of practice, and we’re closer (as a squad) because we’ve all known each other a really long time. It helps a lot with our success, and a lot of people are going to have to work hard to get back (to that level).”
Ennis echoed Fick and said her athletes know when to get down to business.
“You have to have that same work ethic wherever you go, and you’re going to have little hiccups here and there with any coach,” Ennis said. “I don’t want to jinx them, but they’re a pretty decent competition squad. When they get on the mat, they know they have a job to do, and they focus and get it done.”
Ennis said the seniors have each adopted a new role to get the younger girls ready for regionals and states.
“All of the seniors have all taken an active role getting the other girls up and motivated and everything,” Ennis said. She added, “It’s difficult, because we really don’t have a chance to get a look at the other teams, so we kind of have to find out once we get there. As long as we hit everything and we continue to work as hard as we have been, I think we’ll definitely be in that hunt.”
The Warriors travel to Freedom for Region 3 competition Jan. 26, where they will perform in the large division at 10:45 a.m. The state meet is Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 at the Kissimmee Convention Center.
—Follow Jeff Odom on Twitter: @JOdomLaker