Indian River cheerleaders get new coach

In the past four years, the Indian River cheerleading squad has come a long way under head coach Kristine Johnson. Now, though, a new leader is stepping in, hoping to continue the tradition. IRHS employee Anne Divine, mother of one of the cheerleaders, will put her knowledge to the test, taking on the role this fall.

“For the most part, the girls are going to be teaching me,” said Divine, whose daughter, Alyssa Murray, has been no stranger to the squad over the past few years. While she has attended plenty of events in the past, Divine is new to the coaching scene. However, continuing guidance from Johnson and support from other parents have suggested that she will be able to bring plenty of spirit to the squad.

“Johnson has really done a phenomenal job with the team,” she said. “We went from a squad of seven or eight people to 30. It will be great to still have her help. We’ve also had a couple of dedicated parents who were at every practice last year, too. I have a lot of people who have my back.”

Applications for the position were released earlier this year, but no responses were filed the first go-around.

“I figured since my daughter cheers, and I’m here at the school anyway, I’d help pick up the slack,” said Divine. “It will be a learning experience, but we want to keep things upbeat. I’m doing this for the girls.”

The girls, themselves, will also help Divine when it comes to organizing the team together again.

“A lot of core girls who cheered last year will be returning,” explained Divine.

Georgie Hattier, Veronica Townsend and Murray — all of whom will be returning to the team — were honored earlier this year when they qualified for the All-American team to travel to the Orange Bowl in Miami. The team also finished with a handful of trophies in a number of events this year, including a first-place showing at the state competition in the large varsity-coed division.

Spring tryouts were held this year, with approximately 32 girls showing up for the team for the upcoming football season, and Divine’s wasting no time getting the group back together.

A team meeting is being held on Aug. 21 at 6:30 p.m. in the Indian River High School cafeteria for all cheerleaders and parents who came out to spring tryouts. With football kicking off on Sept. 5 at Cape Henlopen, Divine wants to make sure she has her ducks in a row.

“I’d like to discuss practices and get an idea of how many uniforms are out there,” she said. “I’m stepping into this with a lot in front of me, but I think it will all come together quickly.” Winter tryouts for the basketball and wrestling cheerleading team will be held later this year.

A fundraiser will be held just before the start of the football season, to help get things rolling. Roadhouse Restaurant in Rehoboth Beach will sponsor a benefit on Wednesday, Sept. 3, donating 10 percent of their earnings that day to the Indian River cheerleading team.

“It’s great,” said Divine. “You don’t have to do anything, just go on in and eat.”

For additional information about the team, contact Divine at Indian River High School at (302) 732-1500.

“I want to keep it fun for the girls,” she said. “I’d like to keep the squad at the level that Johnson set up here. We just need to regroup and get going.”