BY DANIELLA UNAFRAYCHUK
The yells, screams, cheers, and unbearable heat is something Alicia Hajaree has become well acquainted with. After being present at Cooper City Optimist`s (CCO) football games for over twelve years as a cheerleading coach, you could say Hajaree is an expert at what she does. Going to practices and Saturday games has helped aid Hajaree in gaining experience for coaching Cooper City High School’s Varsity and Junior Varsity cheerleading teams.
Hajaree fell in love with the sport when she was a teenager and on her own high school cheer team. Coaching wasn`t an official idea until her younger sister joined CCO`s cheer team and began to get more involved. That sprouted the legacy that she has endured over the last twelve years.
The 2014-2015 school year brought about a drastic change within the cheerleading community at CCHS. With former head coach Jenny Jerningan stepping down, it called for someone new to rise to the challenge. After being an assistant coach for six years, Hajaree decided to keep a familiar face around for the cheerleaders, allowing the family to grow together as one. After much thought and consideration, Hajaree accepted the head coach position; this decision was greeted with much enthusiasm and joy.
“Alicia has been my coach throughout all my years at CCO and it`s awesome to know that our new coach is someone who`s seen us all grow up,” Varsity cheerleader Amber Duclos said.
Although it was an easy transition for Hajaree, some aspects proved to be difficult.
“My greatest difficulty would probably be trying to get the girls to come together as a team and bond,” Coach Hajaree said.
This doesn`t discourage her though; she aims to make the squad more positive and school spirited, as well as continuing to grow as a program. With so much faith and work going in behind her actions, Hajaree hopes that Varsity cheerleaders can serve as a role model for the girls below them, setting an example for JV. Cheerleading is more than just doing something in her spare time. She has grown attached to the girls, and it brings her pure happiness and satisfaction to enable the girls to do what they love, being alongside them guiding them through all the while.
“There`s no greater feeling that getting to know the girls and watch them grow, and I wouldn`t want it any other way,” Coach Hajaree said.
Although the season has just begun, Hajaree has nothing but high hopes and believes it will be one of the best. Alongside assistant coach Jordan Kantor, she hopes to face the year with a streak of excellence.