Wildcats battling to overcome adversity
By Bryan Bonato Special to The News-Sun January 15, 2013 2:26PM
Updated: February 17, 2013 6:15AM
It’s been the strangest of seasons for Libertyville High School’s cheerleading program, and “good” is not necessarilyi a synonym for “strangest.”
The Wildcats have a tradition of excellence in the sport and usually are a player in the coed division of competition at the state tournament.
This year, however, has been very different.
Seventeen girls and three boys from Libertyville’s varsity cheerleading team quit at the conclusion of the fall sports season, just weeks after Carrie Niemet stepped down as the team’s head coach.
The handful of remaining varsity cheerleaders were subsequently combined with the intact JV team.
Because of the lack of experience, the team of mostly freshman and sophomores plus one junior (and one boy) have been competing in the “large JV division” this season.
The team has split its efforts between varsity and lower-level basketball games.
JV coach Julianne Luick was tapped to lead the program during the winter sports season, becoming the school’s seventh different head coach in eight years.
Libertyville had qualified for the state competition in the coed division every year since 2005-06.
The Cats finished 5th in 2006-07 and 2007-08, 6th in 2009-10, and brought home a state runner-up trophy in 2010-11.
Here’s how Luck described the situation:
“We have one team for the whole school. This team has done sophomore and varsity games in an effort to support as many teams as we can.
“There was a large group that decided not to continue after the football season, so this has been our competitive team all year. They’ve been asked to take on a lot, but they’ve handled it well.”