Alumnus Pom Returns as Assistant Coach, Team Starts Year Off Strong

The+poms+squad+impresses+the+crowd+by+performing+a+circular+%E2%80%9Cworm%E2%80%9D+at+the+homecoming+pep-rally+Oct.+11.++The+circular+worm+is+a+way+to+allow+all+of+the+grades+to+see+the+performance%2C+since+the+poms+usually+perform+facing+the+upperclassmen.+Courtesy+of+Debra+Plaisance

The poms squad impresses the crowd by performing a circular “worm” at the homecoming pep-rally Oct. 11. The circular worm is a way to allow all of the grades to see the performance, since the poms usually perform facing the upperclassmen. Courtesy of Debra Plaisance

The poms squad impresses the crowd by performing a circular
The poms squad impresses the crowd by performing a circular “worm” at the homecoming pep-rally Oct. 11. The circular worm is a way to allow all of the grades to see the performance, since the poms usually perform facing the upperclassmen. Courtesy of Debra Plaisance

After winning multiple first place awards over the last two seasons, the poms have been moved up to Division I for the first time since 2003.

New co-coach Kurie Fitzgerald has joined returning coaches Kelly Bauman and Lauren Gonzalez to bring new ideas to the squad this season. Fitzgerald was an RHS pom captain in 2008 and leads technique practices.

“Every week Kurie posts a video of a new technique or jump that we work on in practice the following week. It’s really helpful for us because division one is more technique-oriented,” senior Hayley Egart said.

In past years, the squad has not started working on perfecting technique until after competition season started, limiting the amount of time spent working on new moves and jumps. By starting in September, the poms have already worked and incorporated double pirouettes, double Russians, C-jumps and front, side and switch leaps, in addition to calypsos, barrel jumps, allusions and fouettes into practices and routines.

In order to allow the senior poms captains Jocelyn Hsueh, Kelsie Hegarty and Christine DiFonzo time to start creating the competition music and choreography in the fall, other squad members can sign up to create football routines with the assistance of one captain. Allowing underclassmen to choreograph routines helps them to practice for the future as well as incorporate many new techniques and visual elements.

The squad’s performances at football games not only allow them to choreograph their own routines, but also allow them to get used to performing in front of crowds before competiton season approaches.

“Having to learn whole new routines in such a short amount of time is stressful, but in the end they are always rewarding. Doing these routines allows us to see the skills everyone is best at so we know what will work well in competition,” Hsueh said.

Since the poms have been moved up to Division I for the 2013-2014 season, their competitions are in the evening instead of early afternoon, which means they no longer have to wake up early in the morning to do makeup, hair, run through formations and get to the school by check-in time.

“Hopefully by having competitions in the evening more people will be able to attend, giving Rockville a better chance at winning the spirit award,” junior Leena Eshack said.

Rockville had a winning streak in the early 2000s for the spirit award, then spirit went down and Rockville has not won a spirit award since 2011. This year, the squad will be performing in four competitions instead of three, providing more opportunities to place. However, the additional competition means the squad will only have one week between the first three competitions, minimizing time to adjust choreography based off of the judges’ feedback.

All the hard work the poms are putting in is for the main competition, counties, which determines their finalized ranking in the county. Until then, the poms look forward to impressing the judges as well as fans and hope to place high at their first competition Jan. 4.