By Jodie Connelly
Grayslake Colts is adding a new squad to its roster of cheer squads. The new Sparkle Squad is a cheer program designed for boys and girls in kindergarten to eighth-grades with special needs.
This team will be designed with the child's special needs in mind, organizers say. No experience is necessary. Children will learn sideline routines in order to cheer at home football games. At these games, the children will cheer for the first half of the game and do a short halftime performance. The Sparkle Squad will not cheer in inclement weather or travel to any away games, unless coaches and parents agree.
The Sparkle Squad will also have the opportunity to cheer at a minimum of one competition. A possible second competition will be determined based on the age of participants, travel time and other factors.
The regular season runs from the first week of August through the last week of October, with the possibility of playoffs the first three weeks of November. Practices will most likely be for 60 to 90 minutes once a week, with the possibility of two nights a week, depending on age and need of the participants.
This squad will be coached by Betsy Wahmann, who has an extensive background in teaching special needs children. She is currently employed as a resource teacher at Woodland District 50. She also has experience coaching cheerleading.
Wahmann will be assisted by Jodie Connelly who also works with special needs children in Woodland School District 50 and has experience coaching cheerleading. All coaches are AED and CPR certified. The Junior Coaches, high school cheerleaders who have been through the Colts program and come back to work with the younger athletes, will be specifically chosen with the children's special needs in mind.
The Grayslake Colts organization is still accepting applications for parent coaches for the Sparkle Squad. If interested, indicate that during registration.
The cost of this program is $175 which includes a sweatshirt and pants to keep, socks and a hair bow for girls. Squad members will be fitted with a cheer uniform which is returned at the end of the season.
Additional expenses will include shoes and lollies for girls. All families are required to volunteer for two hours in the concession stand during the season and to participate in a team fund-raiser. Registration deadline is May 31, 2011.
If financial assistance is needed, the 12 Oaks Foundation provides financial assistance for participation in athletic programs for families suffering financial hardships due to the expenses associated with long term medical illness. To be considered for a grant, submit an application: http://12oaksfoundation.org/12_Oaks_Application.pdf. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org
For additional information or to register for the Sparkle Squad, contact Jodie Connelly at email@example.com or 847-548-1848.
Editor's Note: The byline of this story has been revised. The article was previously incorrectly attributed to the editor when, in fact, Jodie Connelly is the author of this story. Patch sincerely regrets the error.