STONINGTON — Bridget Stover has learned a lot during her time as a cheerleader.
And she has done her fair share of cheering, too.
She started in the Stonington Youth Football program and was a two-time captain at Stonington High where she cheered for four years. She competed at the cheerleading world tournament in Orlando, Fla. with the Full House All-Stars.
She cheered at Central Connecticut State University where she competed in the NCAA College Nationals in Florida. And even when she studied abroad, she cheered with the National University of Ireland-Galway competitive squad.
"All of my coaches from from peewee football to college have had a big impact on my life. What I have learned about hard work and dedication through my years of cheerleading have helped me in my life outside of cheering," Stover, 24, said. "Now, I want to have a positive impact on other cheerleader's lives."
Stover will have that opportunity as she has been named the new cheering coach at Stonington High replacing Natalie Lucy, who served in that capacity for 24 years. She was an assistant coach last season.
"I've always dreamed of being the head coach since I was little," Stover said. "I just want to continue the legacy that Natalie made there and that Stonington cheerleading has."
Stover, who works a clinical support specialist for a telehealth company in Middletown, Conn., has a degree in sociology with a minor in psychology from CCSU.
She said cheerleading has an important role to play.
"I think in plays a big role in bringing sportsmanship and school spirit to the community and the student body," Stover said. "For football and basketball, we also encourage the teams during the games."
Stover, who was a flyer during her cheering days, said cheerleaders must be willing to work hard and have a dedication and love for the sport.
The team has been practicing several days a week. But with the recent cancellation of the football season it is uncertain how the fall and the remainder of the school year with play out.
Some players, coaches and legislators in the state are pushing for a possible season this fall. Others are calling for the sport to be moved to next year.
The Bears usually compete in the ECC cheering competition, the state meet and the New Englands. It is uncertain if any of that will place.
"The team is hopeful for the season. They are just excited to be back in the swing of things," Stover said.