CARROLLWOOD – The Carrollwood Hurricanes cheerleaders do a lot more than root for their Pop Warner football program.
They have a lot to root for themselves.
The Carrollwood Pop Warner cheerleading program, which cheers for their Hurricanes at Sickles High School on Saturdays, also is a competitive cheerleading team that has advanced to regionals at Walt Disney World many times and has the goal to advance to the nationals this year, also at Disney World.
Although she was never a cheerleader in high school, Lisa Casazza runs the three cheerleading squads. She was a volleyball player and played at Hillsborough Community College and at the University of South Carolina. She married, started having children, and that was the end of her volleyball career. She ended up with the Hurricanes and is building a cheerleading program that is on the verge of a trip to the nationals practically right in their own back yard.
“We have a lot of competition in Pop Warner, but we have been knocking on the door,” Casazza said. “We’ve been to the regionals and now it’s time to get to the nationals.”
Not everybody makes the team; there’s a rigorous qualifying program.
“They have to be ready for the Florida weather,” said Casazza, just after a major storm ruined practice on a recent Monday. “They have to be in proper condition and be ready because it isn’t easy to be a cheerleader. There’s no tumbling, but there’s a lot to be ready for if they want to participate.”
Anyone who is qualified can cheer. Once you make it through sign up and qualification, there are no cuts. Participants stay within the boundaries of the age groups and cheer from there.
Carrollwood cheerleaders often move to the high school level. Casazza said that she has kids cheering at Alonso, Sickles and Steinbrenner high schools.
For more on the Carrollwood Hurricanes cheerleader program, call cheer coordinator Lisa Casazza at (813) 458-3091 or email her at email@example.com