High school cheering

Coach Gundel ready to help Mariners enter competition realm

Prior to Oceanside, Rockland District High School was state-level competition powerhouse
By Mark Haskell | Dec 06, 2019
Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel Oceanside coach Stefani Gundel, middle, with fall cheering members.

Rockland — Significant changes are on the horizon for Oceanside High School cheering — on the floor and at the team's helm — for the 2019-20 season.

Not only do the Mariners eye a return to competition this season, but welcome new coach Stefani Gundel to the fold as she attempts to guide the program’s transition to competitive cheering.

“I am excited to be the new cheer coach at Oceanside,” said Gundel, who took over for coach Hope Billingsley. “I am eager to build the program into an award-winning team, full of school spirit and community involvement. The administrators have been supportive and the community has given me so much support and positive feedback. It's been great.”

The 41-year-old Gundel, then Stefani Hall, was a 1997 graduate of Garland High School in Garland, Texas and went on to graduate from the University of North Texas with a degree in literature in 2002.

Gundel, who also coached the Mariner fall cheer squad (which leads the spirit at football games), moved to Maine in 2016 and has been an English teacher at OHS three years.

Her husband, Jon, originally is from Rockland and is a Rockland District High School graduate.

Gundel also is a veteran cheer coach as has “coached many award-winning teams in Texas” prior to coming to Maine.

RDHS had a longstanding tradition of competitive cheering programs, including a state Class B championship in 2003 and a number of Kennebec Valley Athletic Conference Class B and regional titles.

However, the high school program began to dwindle in numbers when Rockland and Georges Valley High School combined to form Oceanside High School, and the school dropped out of competitive cheering in 2014.

And now, Gundel is tasked with helping ease the Mariners back into action.

“We will be competing in 2020,” she said. “The girls have been working hard and I am seeing improvement daily. Their smiles and spirit are absolutely contagious. I am confident that as the program continues to rebuild, Oceanside will be a well-known name at competitions.”

Oceanside has 18 student-athletes on the winter team, as eight of the 18 prepare for competition.

“I feel that keeping the number small is a smart choice for our first year back in competitions,” she said. “It allows us to focus on fewer, stronger stunt groups and tighter formations. Our goal is to focus on hitting our stunts and keeping our motions tight and clean. The girls are working on their tumbling skills and will be able to incorporate more complex tumbling in the years to come.”

The team will compete at the KVAC Class B championships on Monday, Jan. 20 at the Augusta Civic Center and the Class B North competition on Saturday, Jan. 25 at the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor.

“Our routine will be under three minutes,” she said. “I have not been told if we will have a trial run, so I plan to just practice, practice, practice at home so we have our timing down.”

Oceanside cheering coach Stefani Gundel. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside winter cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside winter cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members, with coach. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
Oceanside fall cheering members, with the coach. (Courtesy of: Stefani Gundel)
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