New Staples cheerleading coach Denise Dargel hopes to implement changes in the program and turn it into a state power. Dargel replaced Jocylyn Sadlon. She is the squad's fifth head coach since the 2005-06 school year and has the proper background to build Staples into a powerhouse.

A Class of 2000 graduate of Foran High School in Milford, she has cheered for 20 years, starting with Pop Warner and the Connecticut Spirit All-Stars. She continued cheering with Foran and Southern Connecticut State University.

Dargel also coached for 14 years, starting with Pop Warner and followed by stints at Foran, Sacred Heart University and the Connecticut Spirit All-Stars, where she still works fulltime and coaches. She has worked at the Spirit All-Star gym in Hamden for four years, has led her team to the national championships every year and coached a team to sixth place at the world championships.

With her pedigree and record for success, the Lady Wrecker captains are happy to have her as their coach and they are confident that she will be successful in building a winner.

"She's a really good cheerleader and a lot of girls have connected with her so far," senior captain Lindsay Nelson said. "We're looking forward to working with Denise and we hope to improve our skills. We hope it will be a more stable year."

Senior captain and last year's All-FCIAC cheerleader Neva Sanfilippo said, "She's definitely a very qualified coach, we're excited. We told her we want to improve, and teaching us new skills and doing whatever it takes to get us there. We have two quality coaches with experience and knowledge and we feel they can take us to the next level."

Sanfilippo was referring to assistant coach Amanda Giudice.

Last year, Staples finished eighth at FCIACs, its best finish in recent memory, and 10th at Class LL, moving up from its 12th-place finish in 2009. The Lady Wreckers lost All-Star cheerleader Hannah East as well as classmates Brooke Kranz, Jourdan Friedman and Rebecca Teplitz from last year's squad, but they are buoyed with the return of a strong senior class and talented underclassmen.

"It's early in the season but we're doing very well and it's promising looking ahead," Sanfilippo said. "I'm confident we'll improve this year."

Nelson said, "I'm really excited for the season to start. The team is working hard. We have a good season ahead of us and I'm really looking forward to working with everyone. The seniors tried to create a sense of unity on the team and are working together. We're reaching out to the underclassmen and we feel we can have a good year."

Senior Carolyn Hamm was last year's Block S Coach's award recipient and will help the captains provide leadership even though she doesn't have the title. Holly Stewart and Kate Warren round out the senior class and will also help lead the team.

Five juniors, Ilana Bernstein, Juliana Lametta, Jacquelyn Fritz, Anna Gerla and Mikaela Kirby return from last year's squad and give Staples experience. Six sophomores, Paige Cooper, Olivia Stanley, Jasmine Henry, Zoe Googe, Alexa Casimir and Maddy Mann return from last year, which further enhances the Lady Wreckers' level of experience.

Freshmen Fionn Hurdle, Katie Kelly, Shanaisha Smith, Eliza Yass, Amanda Strieter, Emma Michesh and Annie Raisaisen join the team as well.

"I'm really excited," Dargel said. "They look really good and they look like they will be a strong team. They definitely have a lot of talent but they need the proper training and someone to direct them and make it what they want it to be. I'll push them to reach their goals."

The squad will have new pom poms and a megaphone as well as signs while cheering for the football and boys basketball teams.

"Our big goal is to build the program," Dargel said. "We want to have more interest at football and basketball games."

Dargel hopes to end this revolving door of coaches and provide stability to the Lady Wreckers for the first time since Shelley Moll, who coaches for a little more than five years, retired from coaching after the 2004-05 season.

Finishing eighth at FCIACs is unacceptable to the squad.

"They want to go to FCIACs and make a statement and be recognized for being one of the best teams out there," Dargel said.