They’re certainly not your typical Catholic League championships.
Layla Mastrangelo is a senior on the St. Hubert High School cheerleading team. And last month, with the help of her teammates and coaches, Mastrangelo led the Bambies to the Catholic League cheerleading championship for the large schools.
Typically, that would be the culmination of a perfect season for most teams. While teams do go on to compete for a championship, most teams’ greatest goal is bringing home a Catholic League crown.
For the Bambies, they’re just getting started.
Yes, Mastrangelo has helped Hubert win Catholic League titles in all four of her years at the school, and just like every other year, Catholic League finals means it’s time to ramp up the work and get ready for states and nationals.
But Mastrangelo isn’t ignoring adding another PCL title to her incredible resume.
“I mean I don’t know, it’s not even a feeling you can explain,” said Mastrangelo, who lives in Morrell Park. “It’s all about the pride and being happy about it, and being humble. It’s still very important to us. The Catholic League is our league. It’s very important for us to win it because there are so many good teams. It’s fun to win anything, but that’s very important to us. We want to win it for the school.”
The Bambies certainly have a lot to cheer about.
The program continues to churn out great cheerleading teams that annually compete for Catholic League and state championships, and are always in the running for the prestigious national championships in Orlando during the winter.
Last year, the Bambies brought home a national championship, which was exciting, but also raised the level of expectations.
It’s safe to say they’ll be ready for both.
“We’re in full swing for nationals and states,” said Mastrangelo, who also plays on the Hubert softball team. “We practice four times a week, two and a half hours each practice. It’s more about perfection and hitting the stunts.
“We run through the routine multiple times. We go through certain parts that we need perfection in. The last 30 minutes is conditioning. It helps a lot, we do leg conditioning for our jumps, crunches and push ups. It helps a lot, especially with endurance and stamina, and you really need to be in shape.”
Cheerleading is important to all members of the Hubert program, and Mastrangelo has been a dedicated cheerleader since the day she signed up.
She has mom to thank for that.
“I was 4 years old when my mom kind of pushed me into it, and I’ve been doing it ever since,” Mastrangelo said. “I loved it since the day I started. I just love the teamwork. It’s not a one-person sport. Everyone is involved. Everyone has to work together. If one person doesn’t do their job, you don’t win. Especially at nationals. So it really teaches you to work together to become a better team. It helps you in so many ways.”
And Mastrangelo has been doing the same thing for her younger sister Alexa. The 10-year-old competes at Valley Cheer.
“I always helped her, when we were quarantined, me and my friend were together the whole time, we would stunt with (Alexa),” Mastrangelo said. “Leah Brace was my teammate, she’s a senior also. It helped a lot during the pandemic.
“My sister was born into cheer because of me. We’re very close and it’s something we both love.”
She’s just as close with her brother, Joey, although that was a little tougher to show support for him.
Her brother was a star wideout and defensive back at Archbishop Ryan. When the Raiders played Hubert’s brother school, Father Judge, Ryan won. That made high school a little tough for Mastrangelo.
“As a freshman, I took a lot of heat because I supported Joey during Judge-Ryan,” Mastrangelo said with a laugh. “After that game, I sat on the Judge side, but when my brother was playing, I was cheering for him.
“It’s great, we are all very close. People ask us (who is the best athlete) and I always tell them, of course it’s me! We all support each other, but we joke around a lot about being the best. I mean, I think we’re joking.”
Either way, Joey and Alexa will be cheering their loudest when their sister and her teammates defend their state and national championships over the next few weeks.
It would be a perfect ending to Mastrangelo’s high school career. She hopes to continue cheering next year in college.
“Next year, I want to go to college for cheer and nursing,” said Mastrangelo, who was accepted to the University of Alabama and is considering going there. “I love helping people, I love being there for people when they’re injured and making sure they’re all right.
“I remember how much they can help. I split my eyebrow open and I had to go to a plastic surgeon. The nurses calmed me down, I was very startled. I never broke a bone or got stitches. It was a frazzling moment, and they helped me. I hope I can do something like that. You never know how you can help.”
Perhaps she’ll be there as a two-time national champ.
“It would mean everything,” she said. “It would be the best feeling ever. Last year was incredible. It was indescribable. I can’t explain it. It was so great and it’s amazing we have another chance to do it.
“I love everything about Hubert. Our coaches, Lisa (McNesby), Paul (Ballentine), all of the coaches mean a lot. They shaped me into the person and cheerleader I am. They’re always there. Not just me but for the whole team and the whole program. The team is so close, we only have two freshmen on the team, so it’s the same as last year.”
And for those considering following in her footsteps, she has advice.
“Do it, come to Hubert’s,” Mastrangelo said. “The sisterhood is amazing and all the sports teams are amazing, especially the cheerleading team. A very good team-bonding experience. I’m so happy I’m here.”