Pinkerton cheers its way to sweet 16th state title
DERRY - In some ways, Pinkerton Academy senior Tom McCarthy stands out on his team.
But in other ways, he melds in seamlessly with a group that has performed at the highest levels for years upon years.
On Sunday, the Pinkerton Academy Varsity Spirit/Cheer team won its 16th state Division I championship at Southern New Hampshire University.
"This group is extraordinary," said coach Michelle McCarty. "This win makes seven in a row for my team and 3½ years undefeated at the state level."
McCarthy has been a member of that team since his freshman year and is the only male competing in Division 1 in the state.
McCarthy said he knew a couple of girls on the cheer team his freshman year, and after soccer practice he would sometimes show off some of his tumbling moves he had picked up from years of doing gymnastics.
McCarty saw McCarthy's ability and skills and asked him to join the team.
"I'd always been a gymnastics person, and this was a chance to use my talent instead of doing it in my back yard," said McCarthy.
Although it was a little odd at first being the only boy on the team, McCarthy said his teammates quickly accepted him.
"The most rewarding thing is being part of a team as prestigious as Pinkerton Academy's," he said. "They have won a lot of titles, and it's rewarding to be part of something that people look up to."
Between school work, practice and competitions, McCarthy said it can sometimes be challenging.
"Sometimes I'm just too tired and I don't want to go (to practice), but I try to stay motivated," he said.
In the end, McCarthy said being a member of the cheer team is a rewarding experience.
"It does make you realize that you have to work hard and stay motivated to succeed," he said.
McCarthy's mother, Judy McCarthy, said the family is proud of what Tom has accomplished as a member of the team.
"The girls took him in and he hasn't looked back," she said. "He has been a captain his junior and senior years. It came as a quite a surprise, but has been a fantastic experience for all of us."
As for the unprecedented success of the team, McCarthy credited teammates who work hard and smart and the tutelage of the coaching staff.
"I don't think I'll ever have a coach as good as Michelle McCarty again in my life," he said.
McCarthy plans on attending Texas Tech in the fall and said he will continue to cheer and prove that cheerleading is a sport.
"You really have to work hard," he said. "This is a sport, and we are athletes."