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Colasante named Coach of the Year as head of MHS cheerleading

MORGANTOWN — If it’s a day that ends in “Y,” then Cindy Colasante can likely be found at Morgantown High School at some point.

She’s not a teacher, just a coach of one sport.

It just happens that sport lasts eight months of the year and Colasante has become a leader at MHS in five short years.

“She is an absolute blessing for our school,” MHS athletic director John Bowers said. “She works so hard at culture and school spirit. She really is a culmination of the school spirit and has rejuvenated our school in a lot of ways.”

Colasante just finished her fifth year as the cheerleading coach at MHS. That sport begins during the dog days of summer with flex days and then just finished as the Mohigans’ boys’ and girls’ basketball teams won Class AAAA state titles.

“Everybody has a hobby or a passion,” Colasante, who cheered in high school and at WVU, said. “This is kind of my way to be involved. When my son (Domenic) started playing youth football I got involved with youth cheerleading.”

That hobby recently was rewarded with the state’s Coach of the Year honor.

“I was very honored and humbled,” Colasante, who was honored during the state basketball tournament, said. “I feel like a lot of times over the years the coach of the year has been associated with winning a championship. What you are starting to see is the transition away from that. The WVSSAC is recognizing that there are thousands of coaches in our state that may never win a state championship that truly have a profound influence on student-athletes.”

The award is a culmination of a long career in the sport of cheerleading. And make no mistake, cheerleading is definitely a sport, no longer is it rah-rah and sis-boom-bah. This sport is grueling and includes tons of practice for a two-and-a-half-minute routine that might only be performed once competitively each year.

West Virginia’s season begins on Aug. 1 and ends with the state competition in November. MHS, University High School and Clay-Battelle all compete in the Ohio Valley Athletic Conference, so all three squads are eligible for the WVSSAC regional competition and the OVAC competition. Only the top two teams at regionals advance to the state competition.

The WVSSAC has crowned state champions in cheerleading since 1987, with Clay-Battelle winning 11 state titles in all and having three runner-up finishes.  

Not only do these cheerleaders compete for regional, state and conference titles, but they also must support the football and basketball teams throughout the year.

“I have competition cheerleaders and I have game-day cheerleaders,” Colasante said. “Not everyone is on both teams. It’s a blend of each. The average person doesn’t think too much about the hours and hours that are put into this sport.”

The primary competition season for cheer is in the fall, and West Virginia has made some significant changes in the last couple of years. Since 2021, competitions have taken place on mats after West Virginia was one of the last states to move from competing on hardwood.

“This sport can take a beating on your body,” Colasante said. “In the late ’80s and early ’90s you started to see cheer take a turn with more stunting and tumbling. In the last 12-to-15 years, it has really become more advanced.”

Colasante, and her other WV counterparts who compete in the OVAC, have to change their entire routine for the conference competition, as Ohio schools are ground-bound, meaning they don’t stunt. Add that change to the already demanding schedule of supporting two basketball teams and a football squad, and things can get hectic.

“We go from August until March,” Colasante said. “A lot of my athletes have some sort of background in all-stars with youth cheer. But we get a little more advanced and work with a choreographer. There’s a huge rulebook with regulations that we have to follow for safety.”

Colasante knows the rulebook very well, as she served as a WVSSAC-certified judge for years before heading up the MHS program.

“We kind of caught lightning in a bottle,” Bowers said. “I know that (former MHS athletic director) Dan Erenrich tried to hire Cindy a couple of times and the timing wasn’t right. When her son started to attend MHS, it all kind of worked out.”

Bowers said that he has seen a change in the school spirit at Morgantown High School in the five years that Colasante has been involved.

While that may be true, that school spirit comes naturally for Colasante.

“I come from a small southern West Virginia town,” Colasante said. “Our athletics was all we had. You ate, slept, and breathed high school sports. Friday night was football. That small-town feeling I have tried to kind of foster in our community. We really are a small town, once you get to the root of it.”

Even with all the work that Colasante has put in over the years, she said that winning the Coach of the Year honor was a surprise.

“You don’t get awards like this alone,” Colasante said. “I have phenomenal support at MHS, from my administration, my assistant coach and my athletes and their parents.”


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