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The Homer Horizon 021518

36 | February 15, 2018 |

36 | February 15, 2018 | The Homer Horizon SPORTS homerhorizon.com High-flying performance helps Hadley raise money Submitted by Homer Community Consolidated School District 33C A team of students from Hadley Middle School recently took on a team of Wizards in a game of basketball. The Harlem Wizards, an entertainment group similar to the Harlem Globetrotters, visited Hadley Thursday, Feb. 8, where they took on Jackie Gallagher, Kaleen De- Fillipis-Holba, Abel Orelove, Matt Hull, Katie Cookman, Jen Mitchell, Chris Love, Lisa Davis, Carmel Hoak, Kristen Bard, Jon Grill and Matt Muir. Schilling School teachers Melody Johnson, Ashley Nelson and Kristen Rekruciak also participated, while Jane Fojtik served as the team’s coach. More than 400 tickets were sold online prior to the soldout event, and another 100 seats were provided at the door. The funds raised at the event are to go toward a gardening and life center for the reading gazebo to help with science classes. Homer Jr. High eighthgrader and show choir student Talon Athos performed the national anthem. Nothing Bundt Cakes, Creme and Joey’s Red Hots helped the fundraising efforts by selling food at the event and donating a portion of the proceeds to the school. Leon Sewell, known as Spacejam (left), stops Lloyd Clinton, known as Loonatik, from running off with fifth-grade teacher Kristen Bard. Lloyd Clinton, known as Loonatik, signs autographs for Mohammad Abusalah (left) and Caden Harnett Ratkovich. Devon Curry, known as Livewire, goes up for a slam Thursday, Feb. 8, during the Harlem Wizards fundraising event at Hadley Middle School. Photos by Julie McMann/22nd Century Media Teachers get themselves hyped up before the game against the Wizards. Going green LTHS boys swim and dive team dyes hair ahead of postseason LEFT: In maintaining with tradition, the LTHS boys swim/dive conference team dyed their hair Jan. 31 in preparation for the postseason. Loretta Howard, owner of Corner Salon in Lockport, once again donated the time of her and her staff to dye the entire conference team’s hair a shocking neon green. Photo submitted This Week In... Lockport Township High School Varsity Athletics Wrestling ■Feb. ■ 15 at IHSA Individual State Finals, TBD at University of Illinois State Farm Center ■Feb. ■ 16 at IHSA Individual State Finals, TBD at University of Illinois State Farm Center ■Feb. ■ 17 at IHSA Individual State Finals, TBD at University of Illinois State Farm Center ■Feb. ■ 20 at IHSA Team Sectional, TBD Boys Basketball ■Feb. ■ 16 at Sandburg, 6 p.m. ■Feb. ■ 20 host Stagg, 6:30 p.m. Boys Swimming and Diving ■Feb. ■ 17 at IHSA Sectional, TBD at Sandburg

homerhorizon.com SPORTS the Homer Horizon | February 15, 2018 | 37 Platinum Cheer Association empowers young cheerleaders Amanda Del Buono Freelance Reporter Encouraging young athletes to, “Be Fierce. Be Brilliant. Be Platinum!,” Platinum Cheer Association is gearing up for its first year of competitive cheerleading. On Jan. 29, all eight of PCA’s board members met at Front Row in Homer Glen for their last meeting before registration opened on Jan. 30. “Every person at this table really created PCA,” board member Lisa Lechtenberg said. “… We all come with a background in cheer and possess a special passion for it. … Every single woman here is so devoted.” Last year, the women embarked on the opportunity to create a new cheerleading program that was not connected to a football program. Having an independent program will allow for a stronger focus on cheerleading as a sport, giving PCA athletes an edge as they move into high school cheerleading, the board members said. “We really love empowering the girls; I have a daughter, and I like that she gets to be at the center,” board member Katie Jablecki said. Board member and Homer Glen resident Jen Wirth added, “We’re the first in the area to do cheer on a recreational level not connected to a football program.” The board members and founders all have children who were previously involved with another cheer program. After discussing the benefits their children would receive from a cheercentric program, they decided to create their own. “We knew we wanted cheer to stand alone as a sport,” board member and Homer Glen resident Jill Roberson said. “We had a really strong program before, but we saw athletes looking to move to all-star levels, so we wanted to create a program at the all-star level without the all-star price.” Taking it further, board member Tanya Giordano said that the program combines community outreach, fundraising and athleticism in order to help shape PCA athletes into great high school athletes. When it comes to community outreach, the organization already has established a relationship with Ronald McDonald House Charities and Victorian Village in Homer Glen as part of its efforts to give back. “We’ve worked to form partnerships with recognized organizations that can benefit from service,” Wirth said. PCA accepts athletes from anywhere in the area and expects to see many from Homer Glen, Lockport, Orland Park and other nearby towns. “We don’t want anyone to feel excluded based on what town they’re from,” Roberson said. Not only were the women looking to create a cheer organization detached from a football program, but they also wanted to make the sport more accessible because cheer programs can be costly, they said. To help athletes and their families, PCA offers its Cheer For Free program, as well as several fundraising opportunities. “At PCA, it’s really important to us to make it affordable for families,” board member and Homer Glen resident Jennifer Reichardt said. “Cheer For Free allows families who participate to reduce or eliminate fees.” Those interested in Cheer For Free can download a cover letter outline and a sponsor letter, which outlines the goals of PCA, to help get sponsor donations to cover the various fees that can be associated with competitive cheer. As of press time, the PCA board has raised more than $6,000 in sponsorships for its athletes, it said. “Sponsorships are important in keeping affordability for families,” Lechtenberg said. “They help offset the cost for the kids.” Additionally, PCA is planning two fundraising efforts, which are also designed to help minimize the costs to the athletes and their families. “Also, we offer two opportunities to fundraise,” Reichardt said. “One is a mixed bag fundraiser. … It’s optional for families, but it’s only going to help them afford it. PCA doesn’t get any of the money. … The popcorn fundraiser is to support the state fees.” She added that all fundraising efforts are voluntary to the athletes and their families. PCA offers a Sparkle program for children 4 and 5 years old, as well as competitive teams, which compete in the Illinois Recreational Cheerleading Association, for those in first through eighth grades. In total, PCA has six teams. “Platinum is the element that holds the organization together, and each team is a gem within it: diamond, opal, turquoise, sapphire and onyx,” Lechtenberg said. PCA is also excited to create a community where friendships can be built among both athletes and parents. “Friendship is important to the athletes,” board member and Homer Glen resident Jen Kubiszyn said. “My daughter has been in cheer since second grade, and now she’s in seventh. All of her best friends are from cheer in second grade.” The Platinum Cheer Association board and their daughters pose for a photo. The association is a new, independent program that will focus on cheerleading as a sport. Photos submitted Cheerleaders from throughout the area are welcome to join Platinum Cheer Association. Kicking off its first year, the board is excited to see all that it can accomplish. “We hope to have a season where we kill it on the mat and do a lot for the community,” Lechtenberg said. PCA hosted an open house on Saturday, Feb. 3, from noon to 3 p.m. at Front Row. On Feb. 23, the association will be hosting a gathering for PCA families from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. at Pelican Harry’s, located at 14807 S. Founders Crossing in Homer Glen. Finally, PCA’s first open gym will take place March 31 at MPX Elite Fitness, located at 15301 S. Bell Road in Homer Glen. Registration will be open through May 1. The PCA Board expects teams to fill quickly, it said. Members of the board include Lechtenberg, Jablecki, Roberson, Reichardt, Giordano, Kubiszyn, Wirth and Kelly Boike. More information about programs, events, affordable options and fundraising is available at PCA’s website, www.platinum cheerassociation.com, and on its Facebook page, face book.com/platinumcheeras sociation.