Indiana, PA - Indiana County

SALTSBURG: Former cheerleader continues coaching tradition

by ASHTON BATTISTELLI, Gazette Student News Reporter on November 30, 2012 11:00 AM

SALTSBURG -- Originating in 1963, the Tri-County cheerleading competition is held every year on Black Friday.

This was the only competition that this particular region had, which made it very important to the participants of Indiana, Armstrong and Westmoreland counties.

In the beginning, each squad would perform separate dances and cheers. Now each squad performs their routine once towards one side of the gymnasium and then reverses and performs to the other side.

Whoever would win the competition would host the following year. The Saltsburg cheerleaders first won in 1981 and have continued a winning streak from 1996-2011.

Deanna Fink, one of the current Saltsburg varsity cheerleading coaches, remembers what it was like when she was a cheerleader and the effect Tri-County had on her.

Fink recalled the excitement, saying, "I remember the feeling I had as I entered the gym to be seated with my squad. There was so much excitement and anticipation running through me, as well as nervousness and anxiety.

"I remember as we would enter the gym, there were different school marching bands in there to greet us. They would play pep songs such as 'The Final Countdown.' Hearing those bands really got everyone involved and excited about the competition, not only the cheerleaders."

Unfortunately, after Fink was a cheerleader, a few of the traditions died. There were no longer marching bands or any outstanding performers.

Fortunately, when she became the Saltsburg varsity cheerleading coach, she brought it all back.

She got a DJ to bring in the marching band effect for when the cheerleaders were seated, and also initiated an outstanding performer award. Fink has hosted three Tri-County competitions throughout her coaching career and wanted to make this past one the best one yet, considering it was the 50th one.

The Tri-County competition was very successful and will be held next year at the gym of the 2012 Tri-County winner, Apollo-Ridge.

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