By Tamas Mondovics

Thanks to a shorter summer break, Hillsborough County area students who are eager to prove their skills and talents had a chance to do just that a bit earlier this year.

Bloomingdale Senior High School student athletes were no different and, for many of them, the official start of the year was simply a continuation of an already very active summer.

“The girls had a great summer, but stayed busy,” said Bloomingdale Cheer coach Michelle Groat, who is now in her 14th year coaching and starting her second season with the Bulls.

Following the dreaded tryouts, Groat expressed confidence of this year’s team roster that is now featuring 18 talented athletes, including seven seniors, all led by senior captains, Raven Gadson, and Taylar Haywood.

“Both girls were a key part of last year’s competitive season success that ended with us in fourth place in the 2A Medium Varsity Division during the 2016 Florida High School Competitive Cheerleading State Championships,” Groat said.

The event finals were hosted by the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) at the USF Sun Dome, last March.
Claiming its rightful place in the top five, however, did not come easy for the squad including an injury during the finals performance that forced the girls top halt the routine.

Befitting a championship caliber team, a decision was made to regroup and finish the job. The rest was history.

While proudly boasting that to be a part of the Bloomingdale cheerleading squad is “something special,” Groat is now looking forward to another season of competition with a goal of nothing less than last year’s success.

Aside from three new members of the squad who are also new to the school, Gadson and Haywood are among the 15 girls and that are returning this year, effectively adding to the program’s strength.

“We have worked out some bugs,” Groat said.

Bloomingdale is hosting the season’s first local competition scheduled for Wednesday, November 11, 2016.

The event is a great way to get the girl ready for the rest of the season’s competitions including the much anticipated Western Conference and the annual FHSAA Competitive State Cheerleading Championship in late January.

The BSHS cheerleading squad can be followed on twitter@bshscheer.