Sports Person of the Week
Ciotti Enjoys Decorated Career with Hand Cheerleading
Senior captain Gina Ciotti has made All-State in all four of her seasons as a member of the Hand cheerleading squad. She’s also a two-time All-American and three-time All-SCC recipient. (Photo courtesy of Gina Ciotti )
Gina Ciotti has spent most of her life perfecting the art of cheerleading. After spending countless hours memorizing the choreography of a routine and working through stunts, motions, and jumps, Gina prides herself on being one of the best cheerleaders in Connecticut. A senior captain for the Hand cheerleading team, Gina has earned All-State Class L honors in each of her four seasons with the Tigers.
“My dad coaches football, and my mom is the head coach of the cheerleading team at Hand, so I’ve been around sports my whole life, and they’ve really had a huge influence on me,” Gina says. “When I was a kid, my sister and I would always go with my mom to whatever event she was coaching at for cheerleading, and it really kickstarted our passion for the sport.”
Now, Gina and her sister Ali are both competing for the cheerleading team at Hand. Gina says that working with her mother and sister can be a struggle at times, but adds that they always come up with a solution together.
“We all have big personalities. We all have a certain idea of how we want things to go during a routine,” says Gina. “Usually, we just talk through it, and we’re better because of it. All of us have great ideas.”
In addition to being a four-time All-Stater, Gina has made the All-SCC Team in three-straight seasons and garnered All-American accolades from the Universal Cheer Association the past two years. On top of that, Gina was named a Scholar Athlete by the SCC this winter.
“It’s a huge honor to be recognized amongst all these great athletes,” Gina says. “Cheer isn’t an easy sport by any means, and I’m really thankful for the support I’ve had during my career.”
Hand features a smaller squad than in past years with nine athletes on its roster. However, Gina feels pleased that the Tigers are making the most of their talent and succeeding at their meets.
“We took fourth place at the SCC cheerleading competition out of 17 teams,” says Gina. “I was really proud of our effort, and the fact that we had three girls make the All-SCC Team was an accomplishment in itself.”
Gina embraces the intricacies of cheerleading routine. Gina and her teammates do a lot of work behind the scenes to ensure they can deliver a top-notch performance when it’s time to step in the spotlight.
“What people don’t realize is we have a choreographed routine that we have to memorize before anything. After that, we have to practice at that for months before we get it perfect,” Gina says. “We do five competitions every year, and our goal is to be as close to perfect as possible for that final event of the season.”
Gina’s mother Licia Ciotti has been coaching cheerleading for more than 20 years. Ciotti gets a lot of joy from seeing her daughters make their mark in the sport.
“Coaching them through the youth was so fun. They have strong opinions and thoughts about what we do,” says Ciotti. “Gina has great ideas and helps coach our youth teams. She’s really good at seeing choreography. We try to work together as a team.”
Gina will once again be holding leadership role when she serves as a senior captain for the Tigers’ softball squad this spring. Gina is also an exceptional student who has a 3.8 grade-point average and takes several Advanced Placement courses at Hand.
“I love both softball and cheerleading, but I think I know cheerleading a little better,” Gina says. “Being able to do all of this is a blessing, and I’ve enjoyed every second of my high school career.”
Later this year, Gina will attend Monmouth University in New Jersey, where she will major in business management and minor in criminal justice. Monmouth’s cheerleading coach has already reached out to Gina and encouraged her to try out for the team.
“I’m well-versed in my cheer experience,” says Gina. “I was a flyer my freshman and sophomore years. The past two years, I’ve been a base, and it’s been great to get a feel for both positions. I hope to continue cheer in college, for sure.”