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West Seneca West cheerleading coach stepping down from one of area's most-successful programs

More than all the championships and trophies, what Stephanie Schroeder will miss most about coaching West Seneca West’s varsity cheerleading team is overwhelmingly the day-to-day interaction she had with her girls.

A 2008 grad of West Seneca West, Schroeder started as an assistant at her alma mater in 2009, coached the JV team in 2010 and then took over the varsity program in 2011.

She’s handing over the reins for work and personal reasons.

“I don’t think a lot of people realize how much work comes into play with cheerleading,” said Schroeder, who added that she recently got married and bought a house. “I leave practice, spend four to five hours a week just planning everything and building routines. New York State just became a sport, so the rubric changes year-to-year and even month-to-month.”

Under her tutelage, the Indians have been one of the premier high school cheerleading programs in Section VI.

The list of accomplishments include:

  • Five ECIC fall championships (2012-14, 2016-17) and seven winter championships (2011-12, 2014-2018) since 2011.
  • Section VI titles in 2016, 2017 and 2018, the only Division I school to earn three consecutive state championship bids.
  • West has won all three divisions (small, large and co-ed) in each of its three sectional victories, which shows Schroeder’s coaching versatility.
  • The W.S. West cheer team also won a national title in 2014 at the Cheer Ltd. Nationals at CANAM in Myrtle Beach.

From middle school through their senior years, almost every girl who came through the program left with at least one title.

Beyond the successes, Schroeder has been able to directly influence the lives of close to 100 girls, many of which she keeps in contact with as they enter college and beyond. Twelve former cheerleaders attended her wedding.

“Whenever someone gets a job or needs a reference letter, I get called up for various things and it’s just awesome that they would still think of me,” Schroeder said. “Merry Christmas texts or just random things, it’s good to know that I’m still important to them even though they’ve graduated.”

Schroeder is not stepping away from the sport altogether.

Her assistant, Valeree Griffin, is pregnant and due in September, so Schroeder is going to hang around as a volunteer coach once the fall season starts.

“She also went to West, graduated in 2011, and she’s proven that the girls love working with her,” Schroeder said, “so I felt comfortable taking the step back now.”

Schroeder is also currently training to become a New York State competition judge.

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