Alyssa Hayes, a Whitman-Hanson Regional High alum, has been named the school’s head cheerleading coach.
Alyssa Hayes, recently appointed head coach of Whitman-Hanson Regional High’s cheerleading team, shared her opinion on what makes the program so special and how she aims to continue its legacy.
After the resignation of the previous head coach in February, Hayes was one of three coaches who stepped in and helped guide the program to its 13th state title.
Hayes, a 2012 graduate of W-H, is in her first year as an English teacher and head coach of the boys’ tennis team at the school.
Q: When did you first get involved in cheerleading?
A: I’ve been in the world of cheerleading probably since I was about 4 years old as a mascot cheering on my little sister, they actually made me my own uniform. This was right in Hanson Youth Cheer.
Q: What do you find most fascinating about cheerleading?
A: The ability to have so much skill within one sport. All sports are difficult and I think cheerleading is such an individual sport and such a team sport all at once, which I think is really impressive. You need every single person on that team in order to make that routine successful.
Q: When somebody says “cheerleading”, what are the first three words that come into your mind?
A: Perseverance, team- work and motivation.
Q: When did you begin coaching cheerleading?
A: I’ve cheered my whole life, and then when I moved up to the high school I started coaching at the youth level, along with cheering at Whitman-Hanson. Then my senior year of high school I added the role of choreographer to my coaching and started actually helping to create the routines for Hanson Youth, and then I never stopped coaching all through college.
Q: Being an English teacher, do you see any parallels between that role and coaching?
A: Absolutely, there are so many. I think coaching is actually what got me into teaching because you have to show up for the kids and you have to be consistent and give them a sense of a routine. Otherwise, they don’t know what to expect. Kids need consistency. If you don’t have that you’re not going to have a successful classroom, you’re not going to have a successful sports team.
Q: What, if anything, did you change with the program when you came on board?
A: I think last year my biggest thing was teamwork and positivity. Looking at the future, I’d love to build the numbers back up, I’d love to have another JV team and maybe even a freshman team if we can get the numbers that high. When I was here, we had upwards of 40 kids, so I think building numbers is always a great thing.
Q: What was so special about that roughly month-and-a-half experience you had coaching this team in the winter?
A: Coming back to Whitman-Hanson was a blessing in itself. But, then just all the adversity I saw those girls face first hand, and just handle with grace and motivation and never take a step backwards. They just continued to push forward and continued to get better and work together and I think that’s really special.
Q: Is there anything specific you learned from your cheerleaders last winter that helped you develop as a coach?
A: I think you learn from every team you coach, every team is different. One thing that was special about last season was some of the flexibilitythat I gave the girls because I was coming in mid-season so a lot of it was learning through them, learning what their typical day was like. I think that was the first time in my coaching that I had to step back a little bit and see what they already had at hand, what they were already used to. Then, we kind of made a new consistency together, which for me was a really unique experience as a coach.
Q: What is it that makes this Whitman-Hanson cheerleading program so special?
A: A lot of people ask me that and I often ask myself that. It’s been such a strong and successful and special program for so long and I think it’s just the heart. We’ve got a great program and we’ve got kids that just consistently care about the program.
Q: What are your goals for the program?
A: I absolutely want to build numbers. Like I said, I’d love to have a JV and a varsity team. Not only two teams, but two decent size teams where we can get as many girls on there as we can and maybe even the potential for co-ed, you never know. And I also want to continue to build that legacy, continue to build the Whitman-Hanson cheerleading name while also giving these kids a special experience. There’s absolutely nothing like your four years of high school sports.
Q: Finally, is it safe to say this is your dream job?
A: Without a doubt.