Devotion and an unspoken obligation to her community prompted Lysa Laverdiere to apply for the Lewiston High School cheerleading coaching job when Lynnette Morency stepped down.

Laverdiere also understood the pressure and stress that go with a program that has enjoyed enormous success and built a statewide reputation on dazzling routines.

But it didn’t hurt that she is a familiar face who knows the ropes. The Lewiston High teacher, who was the cheerleading coach at Lewiston Middle School, also helped out with the varsity cheerleading squad for the past three years. So the transition for Laverdiere has been a smooth one thus far.

“I took this because I felt like I owed it to the city and I owed it to my athletes and all my middle schoolers who have gone through the high school and are here now,” Laverdiere said. “I felt it was kind of time for me to step and take over, and I just wanted to continue the legacy and I knew that I had the ability to do that. That’s why I stepped up and took the job.”

Don’t think for a minute that all eyes are not upon the first-year coach and the cheering program that has known unprecedented prosperity and enjoyed a past season where the Blue Devils were the 2015 Class A State champions, regional champions, KVAC champions, and the New England runners-up.

“I do think there’s a lot of pressure, but I think that’s something that I have learned to thrive on,” Laverdiere, who was also a cheerleader at LHS, said. “Obviously the pressure is to continue the greatness that Lewiston High School cheerleading is. I think I am more than ready to take on the challenge and live up to that pressure.

“I think there’s a lot of aspects that Lynnette had in her coaching that were very successful, so I want to continue the tradition that we have been doing, even even before Lynnette was around when I was in high school.

“But one thing I really want to focus on with the girls this year is not only being successful and winning, but also having a lot of fun while doing it.”

The cheerleaders have also embraced the new coach and the challenges that lie ahead for the Blue Devils.

“Honestly, the past is the past, and we have a new coach right now — so far so good. I am really excited for the season,” senior Sierra Melanson said. “I think that we are going to continue this transition between coaches and we still remain the same Lewiston cheer program.

“Despite the changes, and everything that happened, we have to come together as a team, and I think we have done a really good job doing that.

“I think a new face and a new personality and just new in general and new program is good She brings a lot of new energy to program.”

For senior Taylor Hopkins, change is also a good thing for the program.

“I am ready for a whole new environment. I think it is going to be better,” Hopkins said. “Practices are more positive, and me being a senior, I haven’t had Lysa as a coach yet, but everyone underneath me has, so I feel like they are ready, but so are we.

“She’s (Lysa) tough, but she’s nice about it. She pushes us to our limit. I believe in Lysa. She knows what she is doing. She has a lot of smarts in cheering. Yes, I loved having coach Lynnette as a coach, but I want to show everyone that we can do it without her.”

Laverdiere certainly hopes her Blue Devils win another state title, but she wants one other thing out of this season.

“I want to win and I want to be successful, but mostly I just want to be respected,” the undaunted first-year coach said. “These are big shoes to fill, and I know I have the ability to do it, but I want people to respect me as a coach and respect my team and what I put out there this year.

“They are ready; they are fired up. They are excited for this year. They are expecting great things so I think with their drive and me pushing them, I think we are going do amazing this year.

“I think a lot of people are really anxious to see what is going to happen. I am really excited to show Lewiston cheering is alive and well and can’t wait to put our new routine on the floor in January.”

2015-16 Winter Preview

Who to watch in high school sports this season:

Nordic Skiing: Ashley Pratt, Emily Thibodeau look to lead Leavitt

Boys’ Basketball: James Ouellette of Spruce Mountain pushes through injury, tragedy

Indoor Track: Soracco’s back in track for Lewiston High School

Wrestling: Dirigo aims to be class act, again

 Girls’ Hockey: Lewiston sets out on a different path

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