Round Pond resident Bri McCarthy had been named an Nfinity Coach of the Year. Nfinity, a cheer apparel company, recognized one recreational coach, one middle school coach and one varsity high school coach from each state. McCarthy will receive her recreational coaching award at a banquet in Atlanta, Ga., on Feb. 10, 2024.
Steve Solberg, director of scholastic programming at Nfinity Athletic, notified McCArthy of the award, the inaugural for the program. He called it a “huge honor in the world of cheer.”
McCarthy has coached cheering for 24 years. She got her start at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta, where she coached the sport for 19 years. During the COVID-19 pandemic, when there was no winter sports at GSB, she started coaching at Firehouse Tumbling and Cheer in Topsham.
She was anonymously nominated for the award, and was chosen for the award after being interviewed twice by Nfinity personnel.
She was asked questions on how long she had been in the field, what led her to go into the field, what kept her coaching in the field, and what were the highs and lows of coaching cheering.
“It all started with my mom,” McCarthy said. “She was a cheer coach, my sister and I were born on a cheer mat … it’s in my blood is how I look at it.
“It’s a sport that is constantly evolving and changing. You need to stay up on rules and regulations every year to see if there has been changes from the year past,” McCarthy said. “I’m going into my 24th competitive cheer season and the kids are what really drive me. Watching them succeed on and off the mat is absolutely rewarding. Their smiles when they hit their routine and the music ends, they come rushing off the mat to hug me. That right there makes it all worth it. You can feel the pride they have within themselves.”
McCarthy coaches at the grades 4-6 level in the recreational division. Her team competes in seven meets a year, from October through April, all over the state. Twice her teams have won states at the Maine State Cheer competition in Bangor. They have also won a couple of grand titles.
“Our motto is to be the team to chase,” McCarthy said.
In the 2022-2023 season, her team won every meet but one, and they took second in that one.
“Taking second gave them something to strive for,” McCarthy said.
McCarthy thought her coaching days were over when COVID hit, until she met Christine Pelletier, the owner of Firehouse Tumbling and Cheer.
“She offered me a way to stay with the sport and not give up on something I’m so passionate about,” McCarthy said. “It’s incredible empowering being around such like-minded coaches. Since I’ve been there, I’ve had the highest of the highs with my career.”
Firehouse has five competitive cheer teams. McCarthy is head coach of fourth and fifth grade Team Blaze.
McCarthy said her biggest supporters are her husband, Ryan, and daughter, Fiona. With an hour drive, one way, to the gym and three practices a week, McCarthy said she could not have done it without them.
“They are my biggest fans,” McCarthy said. “Fiona I call my little lucky charm.”
She also credits former GSB Athletic Director Jason Adickes, who taught her and encouraged her to strive to be better.