Cheerleading: Hardcastle forming lasting friendships

Senior Zoe Hardcastle has been a cheerleader since her days with the Lil Rahs when she was 5 years old. Over a decade later, Hardcastle has entered her fourth year with the RTHS cheerleading program including her second year on the varsity team. (Photo by Marcy DeLille)

Lady Hub senior started in Lil Rahs youth program

Zoe Hardcastle has been a cheerleader for nearly her whole life. Hardcastle was only 5 years old when she started attending cheerleading camps and participating in the Lil Rahs, Rochelle Township High School’s youth cheer program for girls from preschool through fifth grade.

Hardcastle cheered at St. Paul Lutheran School through fifth grade before signing up for the Rochelle Junior Tackle cheerleading program in sixth grade. With over a decade of experience in the sport, Hardcastle said the support from fans and family, as well as the bonds she’s formed with her teammates throughout the years, are what she’s enjoyed most about cheerleading.

“I’m happy that cheerleading has given me people I can call my best friends and I know they will always be there for me beyond high school,” Hardcastle said. “I’m looking forward to having a senior season. I want to continue improving my tumbling and our stunts. I hope we still have our team mentality and I’m hoping to stay close to my teammates after high school.”

Hardcastle has cheered at RTHS for the last three-plus years, spending two seasons with the JV team before earning a role on the varsity team during her junior season. Despite a small roster this past season, Hardcastle became a role model for younger teammates, and her growth also allowed her to push through any mental hurdles that stood in her way. With her senior season on the way, Hardcastle said her goal will be to help her teammates overcome their own fears.

“We really came together because we lost so much of our team,” Hardcastle said. “Even though we only had around 10 girls, we made it work and we all became closer. I thought we improved by trying a lot of new stunts and we worked hard to make them hit. I think if more girls push aside their fears, the majority of us would be tumbling. I really pushed through my fears in tumbling and I was finally able to hit my tuck. I pushed to hit every new stunt Trish [Rodeghero] gave us. I want to be a better athlete and continue improving my strength and leadership.”

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