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Manolis is a swimmer, cheerleader and class leader

| Thursday, Oct. 1, 2015, 8:55 p.m.
Maggie Manolis, a senior, is a captain on this year's cheerleading squad.
Kristie Linden | Trib Total Media
Maggie Manolis, a senior, is a captain on this year's cheerleading squad.

Maggie Manolis, a senior at Jeannette High School, is a captain of this year's cheerleading squad.

“I was co-captain junior year,” she said. “And I'm captain this year with Alana Jordan.”

In addition to cheering, Manolis is a competitive simmer with the YMCA and she competes for Jeannette as an individual in the WPIAL. She also plays tennis.

Manolis is part of the class that was the first to be able to try out for the varsity squad as freshmen and so Manolis, Jordan and Niah Wolfe are the first group to cheer all four years of high school.

“I wanted to be a cheerleader in high school. I always liked Friday night football games,” said Manolis. “I always went to the games when I was younger. It seems the right thing to do; You're either a cheerleader or you're on one of the sports teams.”

She likes stunting – she's been a base for four years.

“I'm pretty strong, I feel powerful. You flip them all around and it looks so nice in the air,” she said.

The girls visit YouTube.com to view videos of other cheer squads' stunts to get new ideas.

“We try new combinations to make it better and bigger.”

The girls have had a new coach almost every year of Manolis' high school career. This year, Nicole Reott and Sarah Pitzer have taken the reins. Reott was an assistant coach last year.

“She came on and really helped us,” Manolis said. “She's probably the best coach I've had.”

Reott and Pitzer were both Jeannette cheerleaders during their high school days and knowing the traditions that are important to Jayhawks fans has been a big help, Manolis said.

“They want us to look good, especially for the 700th win celebrations,” she said. “All these people are coming back. They cheered how many years ago and you have to impress everybody. We worked our butts off all summer.”

The 700th win came in week two of this season and the 700th celebration was held at home last Friday night.

“The boys are so excited and they've been working hard all summer. It's a cool thing to say our class, which is so small, but we are the seniors that made it to the 700th win. I definitely think tears will be shed at the game. I probably won't have a voice this week,” she said.

This year, in addition to her other responsibilities, she's a junior coach for the Jeannette Midget Football Associations' cheerleaders.

“This is the first year I did it. I didn't do midget cheerleading because I was busy with swimming growing up, said Manolis. “This is my senior year and I want to do something for the community.”

She and a group of friends are helping the midget cheerleaders two or three days a week, teaching them a dance and helping them learn their cheers. She works with the oldest girls, who cheer for the Hawks' team.

“It's rewarding. They look up to us, too. They could be taking my spot in May after graduation. We're coaching the next generation of Jayhawk cheerleaders. It's kind of weird how it all works out, it's like a big chain.”

Swimming practice begins soon and both YMCA and high school WPIAL swim meets will start after Thanksgiving. As swimming starts, tennis wraps up. When the basketball season ends and her cheering responsibilities lessen, she's thinking of getting a part-time job.

After graduation this spring, Manolis plans to go to college to study biomedical engineering with the ultimate plan of going to med school or to study to become a physician's assistant. She has a friend who is a physician's assistant who also has a degree in chemical engineering as a back-up, which inspired Manolis to follow a similar route.

She also wants to either cheer or swim competitively in college. She's applying to Westminster, Clarion, Allegheny, and Penn State's main campus. She likes Penn State's football atmosphere and Clarion's swimming program, so far.

This year, she's participating in National Honor Society, Ette Kette, student council, science club, art club, and she is yearbook treasurer and has been class president for the last three years, which she hopes to continue.

She is the daughter of Cindy and Angelo Manolis and the sister of Zoe Manolis, the varsity squad's mascot this year, and two older half sisters, Elana Gonzeles and Tessa Meenen.

“I want to thank my coaches for helping us pull together my senior season to make it the best possible. For a minute there, I didn't think we would have anything. Thanks to my cheer squad for always listening to Alana and I and going home and practicing and being part of the team.

“Thanks to my family and friends for being there and putting up with my hectic schedule and making sure I get my homework done and get enough to eat and get sleep.”

Kristie Linden is an editor for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at klinden@tribweb.com or 724-838-5154.

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