Fenwick Cheerleaders Continue Historic Run

The highest-scoring team in school history is making a push toward state for the first time in 11 years.

The highest-scoring cheerleading team in Fenwick history is headed for sectionals. The Friars continue their momentous season January 27 at Rolling Meadows High School, competing for the chance to move on to the IHSA State Final in February.

“We are excited to showcase our hard work and continue to make history as the first team to head to IHSA state in a decade,” said Head Coach Carlotta (Battelli) Fleming ‘13. As a student athlete, she competed on Fenwick’s first-ever state-bound cheer team. “My goal now is to give the winning title over to the athletes I coach.”

Coach Carlotta Fleming, then and now.

Those athletes became the Friars’ highest-placing team ever at the ICCA State Finals earlier this season. They also posted a record-setting score during the Fremd Snowdown Invitational on Jan. 20. “The competition team has been working hard since June, and we continue to improve our score and spirit at competitions every weekend,” said Brooke Henrichs ‘24.

“The energy of the team this week has been great,” Alyssa Ruffolo ‘24 said in the lead-up to sectionals. “We are all so excited to be a part of the historic season and have been working extremely hard to get here…I’m most excited about making sure that we just have fun on the mat and do our best.”

Varsity and JV at Catholic League Conference competition.

“Building a family” has been the key to the Friars’ success this season, according to Fleming. “These athletes love and trust one another. Without those two things, we couldn’t practice safely, let alone be a winning team.”

Henrichs adds that the team has “never been closer” in her four years of cheerleading for Fenwick. “This program continues to grow…not only in skills and size, but also in confidence with the help of Coach Carlotta, Coach [Diane] Sabbia and Coach Sydney [Kozyra Jentel ‘15]. They believed in us. They set high expectations because they knew we could accomplish any goal we set for ourselves. We could not have done any of this without them, and the incessant energy and inspirational quotes every day by Coach Sabbia.”

Fleming also credits her fellow coaches with helping “find new and creative solutions to move the team forward,” along with the close-knit community of Friar cheerleading alumnae like Coach Kelly (Close) Dolan ‘01. “She continues even today to be my mentor and guide…she was also an alumna who poured her heart and soul into making the team she called home a success.” (Echoes Henrichs: “Once a Friar Cheerleader, always a Friar Cheerleader.”)

Cheer celebrating with the dance team after their performance.

The Priory Campus became the team’s designated practice space last winter. “Having a dedicated location and time slot has created a consistency that is key to our program’s success and our athletes’ academic success as well,” Fleming said, noting that every athlete on the squad had the best academic semester of their high school careers last year. (They ended the season with a team average GPA of 4.06.)

Though coaches look forward to growing the program in the future – planning an incoming freshman workshop and kids’ camp in the spring – they have been inspired by the leadership qualities of this season’s seniors. All five team members from the Class of 2024 received the Senior Scholar Award, recognizing their work on the mat and in the classroom: Henrichs, Ruffolo, Genevieve Morrissey, Josie Mayerhofer and Jada Onrubia.

“We could not have gotten anywhere without the trust and commitment of our seniors,” Fleming said. “These athletes began their Fenwick career in the midst of a pandemic and a coaching change. Their dedication to the betterment of the program and the support of the athletes younger than them is something I’d love to highlight. To my varsity five, thank you.”

Fenwick cheerleaders and Senior Scholar Award winners from the Class of 2024.

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