Reaching her sport's pinnacle
Reaching her sport's pinnacle
CUMBERLAND - Not only did she have to overcome the top contenders, but also a music glitch.
That's exactly what Cumberland resident and La Salle Academy senior Ali Rodin, 18, did at the annual state individual cheerleading competition in West Warwick to win the championship.
Each of the 59 cheerleaders had 90 seconds to perform a self-created routine, one that included mandatory tumbling and cheers, and one by one they stepped onto the West Warwick High School gymnasium floor and put forth their best attempt to impress the judges.
Rodin's name was called and she enthusiastically took to the floor. She began her routine to the familiar music that she used so often during practice, when all of a sudden the music just stopped.
"Just for a split second, I didn't know what to do, so I just kept on with the routine without music," she said. "I ended up winning."
Perhaps it was the years of training that she has received as a cheerleader that gave her that sixth sense to just keep going with the routine. A lifelong Cumberland resident, Ali, daughter of Debbie and Neil Rodin, began cheering for the Cumberland Colts Rhode Island Pre-Teen Football and Cheerleading program when she was only 5.
"I cheered in the Colts program for nine years and then I cheered for the North Cumberland Middle School team," said Rodin. "Then I cheered for the Elite All-Stars and then on to the high school. I've been cheering for 13 years now and I love it."
That love magnified itself in her championship performance, when she posted a score of 75.25, well ahead of the second place finished, Brighton Landroche of West Warwick, who scored 72, and third place Hailey Lovelace, also of West Warwick, at 71.25.
With her win, Rodin automatically leads the annual All-State cheerleading team.
While she was gracious in accepting congratulations for her individual accomplishments, Rodin preferred to talk about her La Salle team. The squad competed the following weekend in regional competition against the best high school cheerleading teams in New England and placed fourth.
The success did not come without a lot of hard work. Rodin practices for several hours a day, Monday through Friday, and takes part in competitions on Saturdays and Sundays throughout the cheerleading season.
Despite that demanding schedule, she still manages to maintain excellent grades in school and is a member of the Rhode Island and National Honor societies and the Spanish Honor Society.
She has completed the college application process and has narrowed her choices to the University of Hawaii and the University of South Carolina. She has already been accepted at both.
"What I hope to do is major in international business and learn another language that would allow me to conduct business in other countries all over the world," said Rodin.
Rodin earned high praise from her coach, Kayla Solitro.
"Ali is an extremely confident cheerleader, so with or without music, she can go out there and her personality just shines throughout the entire routine," she said. "So music isn't a factor."