Jenifer Leneghan is a typical younger sibling.
The St. Hubert High School senior has two older brothers, Anthony and Brendan, who were both standout athletes at St. Joe’s Prep. Her older sister Bridget was a star as St. Hubert.
And like all younger siblings, especially those as close as Jenifer is with her family, she always looked up to them and learned by watching.
But unlike most younger siblings, her older sister must have looked up to her, too, because Bridget followed in Jenifer’s footsteps.
“Sports are huge in my house, my parents made us sports fans, we grew up playing sports at Crispin, my brother played football, my other brother was in track and my sister was a cheerleader,” the youngest Leneghan said. “I did basketball, softball, cheerleading and I would swim in the summer for Winchester.
“I was always going to their games and competitions. I went to nationals when my sister cheered. She actually started cheering after me, she went to my competitions as a kid. She always would go to competitions and she asked to do it. It was cool, it’s one thing I can say I started before her.”
Bridget was a quick study.
She went on to be a great cheerleader at St. Huberts, helping the squad win a national championship.
While she wasn’t the original cheerleader in the family, Bridget left quite a legacy for her little sister to live up to.
She’s done exactly that.
Leneghan has helped the Bambies win a Catholic League championship and recently guided them to a state championship.
This was after finishing second last year in the competition.
That was kind of strange, because while Hubert wasn’t the best team in the state during that competition last year, a few weeks later the Bambies won another national championship in Orlando.
It was the perfect end to her junior season, and gave her quite the goal for heading into her senior season. So far, she’s accomplished everything she’s wanted.
The Bambies have a chance to go back-to-back at nationals after a strong weekend that put them in the finals. On Sunday, they found out they’d be in the finals for the competition. The competition was concluded after the Times went to press.
There’s been a lot of glory for the team, but according to Leneghan, every accolade and accomplishment needed a lot of effort and hard work to achieve.
“My favorite part? I like that I could put myself out there and perform,” the Lexington Park native said. “Competitions are fun. It’s a chance to show people what we work on for a whole season. We just have to do it for a two-minute, 30-second routine. It’s a lot of work.
“Every week, we probably put in six to eight hours a week, and toward the end of the season, comp season, we have longer practices. We always go about 10 hours a week and we work hard. I love practice, you go, we warm up together, listen to music blasting, we warm up, and then we get right into perfecting everything that we do, running our routine. We do what we can to make it perfect.
“We work so hard for months. We start in April for open gyms and we don’t stop until February. So we really do work hard for this.”
Cheerleading is a huge part of Leneghan’s life, but she remains busy away from cheerleading.
She plays softball for Crispin, and she has a job working in Councilman Mike Driscoll’s office, where she does paperwork and answers the phone.
She also stays busy babysitting, and that might help her in the future.
Come to think of it, so will cheerleading.
“I want to major in elementary education, that’s my goal,” Leneghan said. “I’ve always helped coach little kids, I babysit on weekends, it’s like my passion. I would love to be a cheer coach, too. Definitely not take (Lisa McNesby’s) job. I’d come back, though. If they asked, I would definitely help out, I love this team.”
It’s hard to believe Leneghan could have a better career, though one more national championship would put the icing on the cake.
Sports will still be a huge part of her family’s life even if this is the last time they’ll be competing in cheerleading.
Her brother Anthony is a sophomore at Amherst where he plays football, and her dad will always be involved coaching football.
But despite the love of football, Leneghan considers her house a football and cheerleading house. Even if not everyone understands the cheer part.
“It would be split right down the middle between football and cheerleading,” she said with a laugh. “I don’t think even my parents could pick which one they like better. My dad, I am surprised. He’s a football guy through and through, even when I try to explain cheerleading, I have to explain it like it’s football. I watch football with him, go to Eagles games with him sometimes, and we’ll watch at home in the living room.
“My family all supports each other, and they’re all there for me. It makes it more fun. I have the family at Hubert’s and my family at home. They all support me and help me. I’m lucky.”
Maybe lucky, but definitely good.
“It means so much to win with this team,” she said. “We work so hard, but it’s all worth it when we win. It’s like something you can’t describe. It’s so great.”