Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Robinson High cheerleading team holds tight to late coach's spirit

There are times during Robin­son High cheerleading practice when the girls get lost in the moment and memories — and expect Tina Maiorana to give them the same pep talk they would receive every day after school.

"We've all said this at one point during practice, that it's like she's on vacation and she's going to come back," junior Ashton Scott said. "I know it sounds weird, but it feels just like that."

It has been more than four months since Maiorana, Robinson's cheerleading coach and a business education teacher at the school, died suddenly at age 34.

Today, the Knights will compete in their biggest meet of the year, the state competitive cheerleading championships in Kissimmee.

At the end of their routine in the Class A large classification, just as they've done after every performance during the competitive cheer season, they will shout their former coach's name.

They all know "Miss Tina," as she was known throughout the Robinson community, is watching.

"It makes it easier for us because we have something to fight for, we have something to dedicate this season to," senior captain Taylor Falcon said. "She's been high school cheerleading for me."

Last season, Robinson advanced to the state final and finished fourth out of 21 schools. At the beginning of this season, which spans football Friday nights into competition season in December culminating with this weekend, Maiorana pushed them to do better.

"She's always been that pusher behind us," Falcon said. "She would tell us, 'You need to have this season. You don't have a choice in the matter.' "

Maiorana is never far from their thoughts. Their team shirts bear her initials in bright pink, her favorite color. Scott, who said Maiorana was like a second mother, has the coach's initials tattooed behind her left ear.

"She was like our best friend," Scott said. "Before I started cheering here in the eighth grade, she made me a varsity cheerleading jacket with my name on the back. It was like she already wanted me to be on the team."

Some girls would spend their lunchtimes in her classroom, where they could talk about anything — even boy problems. There were Wednesday night TV viewings at her home and dinners at Chili's, her favorite restaurant.

"She would always say, 'I don't need kids. I already have hundreds of my own,' " said Dawne Crosby, a team parent who has helped coach the team since Maiorana's death.

News spread quickly on Sept. 23 that Maiorana had been found dead in her South Tampa home — she had been diagnosed with a heart condition as a child and had a family history of cardiac problems. But the team still practiced that afternoon.

"At first they didn't want us to practice, but we didn't want to be alone," senior captain Heather Ravner said. "If anything, even if we didn't practice, we wanted to be with the team. We still ended up having a practice."

Tumbling coach Jeff Melesky took over the team. But Maiorana's teachings still motivated them.

"At the beginning of the year we weren't very close, but Tina used to say how she wanted us to be like a family," Ravner said. "But we really didn't get along. Her passing away kind of brought us together. In a weird way, she made us a family without being here."

Ravner said she could never do a standing tuck — a tumbling stunt that is mandatory for most squads — but remembered all the times Maiorana would encourage her and she kept trying to finally perfect the move.

"Every time I go through it, I think, 'This is for you,' " she said. "This is why I'm doing it. I'm not just doing it to get better. I'm doing it because she's watching me, and I know she'd be so proud."

At last month's Western Conference meet, Robinson went into the finals in fourth place, trailing only county powerhouses Bloomingdale, Durant and Freedom. The Knights finished seventh out of 19 teams at regionals. And they beat South Tampa rival Plant multiple times.

Melesky said he couldn't have predicted it; Robinson has nine first-time varsity cheerleaders.

"Tina has had a lot to do with it," Melesky said. "We wouldn't be anywhere near where we are without Tina. When you have someone who makes that big of an impact on your lives, it's a special thing."

Eduardo A. Encina can be reached at eencina@sptimes.com.

.FAST FACTS

State cheerleading

When: Today-Saturday

Where: Silver Spurs Arena, Kissimmee

Admission: $10; parking $5

Class A (local teams): Armwood, Blake, Hudson, Indian Rocks Chr., Jefferson, Lennard, Middleton, Robinson, St. Petersburg Catholic, Strawberry Crest, Sunlake

Class 2A (local teams): Alonso, Bloomingdale, Brandon, Central, Chamberlain, Durant, East Bay, Freedom, Gaither, Hillsborough, King, Land O'Lakes, Leto, Mitchell, Nature Coast, Newsome, Northeast, Osceola, Plant, Plant City, Ridgewood, Riverview, River Ridge, Seminole, Sickles, Springstead, Steinbrenner, Tampa Bay Tech, Wharton, Wesley Chapel, Wiregrass Ranch

Robinson High cheerleading team holds tight to late coach's spirit 02/03/11 [Last modified: Thursday, February 3, 2011 11:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. U.S. repeats as Solheim Cup champion

    Golf

    WEST DES MOINES, Iowa — Lexi Thompson set the tone by rallying from four holes down. The rest of the Americans took it from there and restored their dominance in the Solheim Cup

    Lexi Thompson, left, comes back from four holes down to halve the day’s first singles match with Europe’s Anna Nordqvist to set the tone for the United States.
  2. Rays see the Blake Snell they've been waiting for in win over Mariners

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — It was a one-run game Sunday when the Mariners' Robinson Cano singled with one out in the seventh inning, bringing the dangerous Nelson Cruz to the plate.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Blake Snell (4) throwing in the third inning of the game between the Seattle Mariners and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Sunday, Aug. 20, 2017.
  3. Bucs journal: Demar Dotson (mild groin strain) expected back for opener

    Bucs

    TAMPA — The Bucs got good news Sunday on starting right tackle Demar Dotson, whose MRI exam showed only a mild right groin sprain and who should be back at practice next week.

    Tackle Demar Dotson has only a mild groin strain.
  4. Bucs counting on better health creating better pass rush

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Ask Bucs coaches about the improved depth and health of their defensive line, and they'll look around for a piece of wood to knock on.

    Retired All-Pro defensive end  Simeon Rice, right, the last Buc to have double-digit sacks in a season,  works with defensive end Ryan Russell, who last season was promoted from the practice squad for the second half of the year as injuries piled up. He is competing for a backup job this year.
  5. Rays journal: Jake Faria heads to DL with left abdominal strain

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — RHP Jacob Faria made the trek he didn't want to take after his last start. It was to the trainer's room. The pain in his left abdominal went from nagging to an issue during his start that night in Toronto.

    Tampa Bay Rays starting pitcher Jacob Faria (34) throwing in the first inning of the game between the Milwaukee Brewers and the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field in St. Petersburg, Fla. on Friday, August 4, 2017.