YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) – As Youngstown City Schools continue to work toward improving their academic accomplishments, the district’s athletic programs are also taking off.
Last year, East High School made history as Golden Bears football hit the playoffs for the first time in 21 years.
Now, for the first time since 2014, a new flag line team will join them on the field, hoping to feed off the recent success and make a name for themselves.
The “Bearettes” are small but mighty and ready to take on their season with a little help from the community.
Eight girls. One team. The Bearettes are the newest addition to East High.
“It’s like a sisterhood thing, like it’s our name,” Jalaysha Crawford said.
The school hasn’t had a flag line team in years but school psychologist and now co-coach Ali Limperos wanted to bring it back.
“Being involved in something like this teaches the students discipline,” she said. “It teaches them practice doesn’t always make perfect, but it makes permanent. It teaches them time management. It gets them excited, as far as school spirit is concerned.”
The other coach, Lindsey Young, is teaching the girls nothing can hold them back.
“We’re classy and sassy,” she said.
And that stereotypes are left at the door.
“Always uphold yourself to a higher standard than what other people think we are,” Young said.
“It doesn’t get easier, you just get better — and it’s so true,” Ja’Niyra Mitchell said.
Just one of the many lessons the team has learned in only three weeks together.
“It’s taught me patience, it taught me to keep going even if you mess up. You can’t give up, you have to keep trying,” Mitchell said.
“We all set aside our defenses to come together and be a team and no matter how hard it is, we all try again even if we fall down,” Crawford said.
More than that, these girls have found each other.
“Them girls, I see as a family,” MeLea Lewis said. “They cool, I like them.”
“We’re like a sisterhood,” Mitchell said. “It’s all laughs, and smiles and jokes.”
The Bearettes are ready to set an example of hard work, passion and pride.
Young said the goal is to uplift them as young women.
“We want them to be the best of the best and they are going to be the best of the best.”
For this spinning sisterhood, they are well on their way — one flag and one step at a time.
The Bearettes have no equipment or uniforms of their own and need donations from the community.
Limperos said they are working with the school but right now, all of their money is coming from fundraising.
If you would like to sponsor the team, fill out this form and drop it off at East High School with your cash or check donation.
To follow the girls’ journey and learn about any upcoming fundraisers, visit the East High School Bearettes’ Facebook page.