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Dryden Cheer Defies Odds Ending Season at Sectionals

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DRYDEN, N.Y. -

Most teams work towards advancing beyond sectionals and representing their schools at the state championship level. The Dryden Lions made an unexpected appearance at the Section IV Championship following a transformative season, one which brought the Lions a new leader.

Deanna Day graduated from Dryden three years ago, and began coaching for her alma mater this season. She had the unique task of coaching some of the girls she cheered alongside as a senior in high school, and merging the talents of veteran cheerleaders and novices. 

One member of the cheer squad, Emma Dodici competed for the first time this season. Dodici has Down Syndrome, but does not let it stop her from bursting with Lion Pride on the mat. 

"It was a question whether or not she'd be able to handle it," said Day. "She blew us away, and there was no question from there on out."

Competing in the Section IV championship was so important to Emma, she chose to join her teammates at Union-Endicott instead of a Special Olympics skiing event. Her mother Beverly has seen a significant increase in her confidence through her time with the team. 

"She feels like a part of a team with the cheerleaders and was included in every aspect of the season," said Beverly. "This is what makes this cheer squad and coach so amazing!"

Despite not advancing in the COED Division, the squad is proud of the work they did this season, and hungry to get better for the next. 

"Taking this team from our first competition, changing the routing after placing third to placing first, and then coming here and rocking the floor, it's amazing," said Day. "It's remarkable what these kids can do."