When the South Pasco Predators Pee Wee cheer team competed at Nationals in Orlando in December, there was the usual excitement at the chance to bring back national honors.
And the girls did it.
They won the cheer squad’s first national championship in a good many years, and they had a big trophy to prove it.
But they didn’t bring that trophy home.
Instead, they agreed with their coach, Sabrina Shea, who was inspired to give the trophy to the Pop Warner Manchester RedHawks Pee Wee, from Manchester, Connecticut, another team in the competition.
That team was still reeling from the death of 11-year-old Jaidyn Bolduc, who died on Dec. 2, from injuries sustained in a car accident.
Billie Jo Wilson, cheer mom for the South Pasco Predators, said the team — which is primarily based in Lutz and Land O’ Lakes — wanted to do what it could to help the family that had suffered the tremendous loss.
The South Pasco Predators was one of the last to perform in its division, Wilson said.
They noticed that the Manchester RedHawks, performing its routine just ahead of them, was holding an enlarged photo of a girl, who would have been competing.
“We later found out that she had just been in a car accident (and had died),” Wilson said. “Her family said that she would want them to go out there (to compete).”
The Manchester RedHawks had shared the news of Jaidyn’s death on its Facebook page.
That Dec. 3 post reads: “It is with our deepest sorrow we share the tragic news of the passing of one of our cheerleaders, Jaidyn Bolduc. Words don’t express our heartbreak. We send our condolences to her family and friends and teammates. Jaidyn, we will leave it all on the mat in honor of you at Nationals on Monday. We love you!”
Of course, the South Pasco Predators were thrilled to claim the national title, Wilson said.
But she added: “Even though it was our very first trophy that we’ve won in a long time, our coach was like, ‘Let’s send this to that family.’”
The team agreed.
They sent a note, also posted on the RedHawks’ Facebook page.
It says: “We were heartbroken to hear about your teammate Jaidyn. You all are so strong for persevering and shining bright on the competition floor. It was our honor to compete alongside you and we know that she would be proud. Being able to show the strength and courage that you did, makes your team the true champions.
“We want your team to have this trophy in honor of the amazing job you did. We also wanted to give a medal for her family to have, to show the support of the Pop Warner family.” – South Pasco Predators Pee Wee
The RedHawks responded on its Facebook page: “Today our team received the most beautiful gesture imaginable. Words cannot describe how incredibly grateful and touched we are for the most amazing gesture from the National Champions, South Pasco Predators.
“South Pasco Predators Football & Cheer you are truly a class act, from our family to yours, the sincerest thank you. Thank you for honoring our angel Jaidyn and the team.
“As difficult as this week has been, it’s gestures and acts of kindness like today and over the last week that remind us how beautiful our Pop Warner National Cheer & Dance community is.”
Sandy Piccirillo, Southern CT (Connecticut) Pop Warner cheer coordinator, in the New England Region, also reacted, sending an email to the team, expressing her gratitude for its kind gesture.
“I just wanted to take a minute to write to you all this evening to express how very touched I was to find out that the South Pasco Predators Pee Wee team sent one of my teams, The Manchester RedHawks, their 1st place trophy, banner and a medal to honor one of the RedHawks teammates, Jaidyn Bolduc, whose life was tragically cut short in a motor vehicle accident on Dec. 2.
“The coaches had met with the team and the parents the day after the accident and they all decided they still wanted to come down to Nationals to compete in Jaidyn’s honor.
“They knew this is what Jaidyn would have wanted them to do, but it was still a very emotional and hard day for them as they missed her tremendously.
“The Manchester RedHawks as well as myself were so very touched by this selfless act, this was just a beautiful gesture on behalf of the South Pasco Predators,” Piccirillo wrote.
Wilson, whose daughter Isabella has been on the cheer squad for three years, said there are countless examples of dedication and commitment shown by people involved within the South Pasco Predators Pop Warner organization.
Teams in other divisions within the South Pasco Predators also performed very well at the national championships, with others also winning top honors, Wilson said.
It’s a testimony to the commitment of the cheerleaders and volunteers, she said.
“Nobody is paid. It’s all volunteer,” she said.
“A lot of us who are involved in SPP (South Pasco Predators) are a family.
“Like Jenny (Gynnifer Burnett), the one who runs this, her husband works at the concession; her sister coaches a team; her mom is the one who does the scholastic group,” Wilson said.
And Coach Shea’s daughter, Madison, helps with the choreography.
Burnett, who is the cheer coordinator “lives at the field,” Wilson said. “She’s there all of the time for every football cheer.”
The cheer squad practices for hours each week, between March and December. They travel to competitions and cheer at Pop Warner football games.
It gives the girls a chance to get away from their electronics and get some exercise, Wilson said. It also helps them to become more disciplined, to develop friendships, and, of course, have fun, she said.
And, as a volunteer, she cherishes the extra time she’s able to spend with her daughter.
The sudden death of 11-year-old Jaidyn Bolduc hit home with the parents of the South Pasco Predators’ cheer squad, Wilson said.
“We all got very emotional about that when we found out because our girls are the same age, and to think of one of them not being with us,” her voice trailed off, as she paused, to regain her composure.
South Pasco Predators Pee Wee squad
Head Coach: Sabrina Shea
Assistant Coach: Kristin Lawler
Team Mom: Billie Jo Wilson
Junior Coach: Shae-Lynn Gibbs
Student Demo: Madison Shea
Lily Kate Laban
South Pasco Predators
South Pasco Predators strives to provide a fun, memorable experience for every athlete who walks on to the program’s field. The team is a Land O’ Lakes-area organization that serves about 500 cheerleaders and football players. All coaches undergo background checks and also are trained to ensure that each athlete has a safe experience within the program. South Pasco Predators works to maintain a family environment where efforts are made to help every child feel at home while taking part in the program. All staff are volunteers.
South Pasco Predators cheer teams are: Challengers, Petites, Tiny Mites, Mighty Mite, Junior Pee Wee, Pee Wee, Junior Varsity and Varsity.
South Pasco Predators is part of the Pop Warner organization. For more information, visit PopWarner.com.
South Pasco Predator, National Championship results
- Varsity Pee Wee 2 Large, national champion
- Junior Pee Wee 2 Medium, national champion
- Pee Wee Large, national champion
- Junior Pee Wee South Pasco Cheer Large, national champion
- Junio Pee Wee Show Cheer, Level 1, national champion
- Tiny Mite Gold, second place
- Varsity Large, fifth place
Published January 26, 2022