Sport fans know that Division 1 is the highest level in NCAA competition.
Revere can lay claim to one of those exceptional athletes who reached the top echelon in her sport.
Catherine Elam, who began cheerleading in the Revere Pop Warner organization and later excelled as a Revere High captain, has completed her Division 1 cheerleading career at Coastal Carolina University in Conway, South Carolina, not far from Myrtle Beach.
Division 1 cheerleading is a huge commitment for a student-athlete. The schedule consists of pre-season training, daily workouts, pre-game celebrity appearances with Coastal boosters, practices, games, and competitions.
“We practiced six days a week, usually for three hours a day,” said Catherine. “We met as a team at the Coastal athletes’ gym two times a week for weight training.”
The Chanticleers qualified for the Cheerleading Nationals in Daytona, Fla., that were televised on ESPN.
Determined to compete at the highest level in college cheerleading, Catherine earned a spot on the Coastal Carolina team during a tryout in the spring of her senior year at RHS.
“My goal was to be a Division 1 college cheerleader – I would not accept anything else,” said Catherine. She enjoyed her college experience while helping the cheerleading program reach new heights.
“My coach at Coastal was really great at building the program and doing everything he could to bring school spirit to the community,” said Catherine. “They just rebuilt the football stadium and it’s gorgeous. The turf is teal to match the school instead of your typical green turf.”
Helping Put Revere Pop Warner on the Map
Catherine started as a Pop Warner cheerleader in 2008 at the age of 7. Her squads were three-time qualifiers for the Pop Warner National Championships in Florida and took home one ‘A’ Division national title. She also was a part of two national qualifiers as a student-coach with her mother, Melissa Jannino Elam, winning two national championships.
“My mother was a very good coach and she helped me a lot,” said Catherine. “I want to say that I love my parents. They’ve taught me everything, from how to be a cheerleader, how to be a leader, helping my mom being able to coach the cheerleaders and seeing the other side of the sport. My dad was coaching football, so I was able to see from every angle how important it is for everything to run smoothly to have a good game and win.”
Her father, Craig Elam, is a past president of the Revere Pop Warner organization while her brother Jack played football for the Junior Patriots.
“My brother was always at every event that I had cheering me on and wearing the school T-shirts in support,” said Catherine.
Former Pop Warner President Patrick Keefe congratulated Catherine Elam on her successful cheerleading career.
“Catherine was an unbelievable high school cheerleader and athlete and for her to go to Coastal Carolina and excel there, we’re very proud of her and her family should be very proud of her as well,” said Keefe. “Hopefully, she’ll come back to Revere and give back to the program where she started.”
A Two-Sport Captain at Revere High School
Catherine was a varsity football and basketball cheerleader at RHS, making the transition from Pop Warner to RHS varsity as a freshman. She became a captain of Coach Julianne Esposito’s squad in her senior year.
“Coach Esposito was amazing,” said Catherine. “She helped out everyone a lot. She was really good at teaching me so much about leadership skills. Our assistant coach was Kristina Russo.”
During Catherine’s four years in high school, the team won several Northeastern Conference titles and finished second in Massachusetts on two occasions.
A Revere High track captain, Catherine combined with her teammates to set two school records in the 4 X 400-meter relay and the 4 X 100-meter relay.
She was the recipient of the Mickey Casoli Award and the Vitale Scholarship as well as a major cheerleading award.
Revere High Director of Athletics Frank Shea said Elam’s accomplishments in cheerleading and track place in her an elite group among RHS alumni.
“To be a captain and excel in two sports is a testament to her leadership, her athleticism, and her ability to inspire her teammates,” said Shea. “And then to go on and compete and excel in a Division 1 college athletic program is just a tremendous accomplishment.”
In addition to her high school cheerleading career, Catherine also trained and competed with the regional East Celebrity Elite All-Star Team based in Tewksbury.
“My mom and my dad used to drive me to practice until I got my own car,” said Catherine appreciatively.
As an Elite cheerleader, Catherine competed with the squad at The Summit in Disney World in Orlando, and NCA Championships in Dallas.
Graduation from Coastal
Catherine will finish her studies at Coastal this fall and graduate with a degree in Exercise and Sports Science. She hopes to pursue a career in physical therapy.
“It’s been a great four years,” said Catherine. “Revere High really prepared me well for college and I’m grateful to all my teachers.”