Hoban alumna cheers into new position as coach

From the age of nine, Hoban alum Leah Marino’s life has been influenced by pom poms, dance counts and hair bows. After cheering for nine years, her passion for the sport allowed her to enter a new role in 2016- assistant cheerleading coach for the Hoban Knights.

    “My experience as a Hoban Cheerleader has been extremely beneficial to me as a coach,” Marino said.  “Because I went to Hoban, I already had a sense of Hoban traditions and culture, and know first hand what it’s like to be a Hoban cheerleader and what’s expected of us.”

    Marino, an avid dancer from the age of five, began cheering due to its similarity to dance.  Carrying over her love for dance into cheer, she utilized her experience to create intricate routines for her squad.

    “But, I also loved to stunt because I had the best stunt group, and my flyer (Kiara Jackson) was actually a gift from God and perfect in every way,” Marino said.

    Previously a “main base” (the person who holds the body weight of the flyer), she brings the experience of handling flyers in different scenarios to her coaching, allowing her to coach both advanced and beginner stunts.

    Her best memory from her own cheer days is being apart of the 2013 State Championship cheer team. Led by her and fellow senior, Bryan Hughey, the team became Hoban’s third state title cheer squad.

    “Winning states was awesome because we worked so hard on our routine for months and we made it up ourselves as seniors, so it was very rewarding,” she said.

    Marino did more than just cheer, though.  She also enjoyed Spanish Club, Student Ambassadors, JAM, the Honduras Immersion Trip, Project H.O.P.E., Kairos and Student Council. As a Hoban grad, she understands the academic demands and extracurricular expectations, allowing the kids to relate to her and build a relationship of trust.

     “I understand what it’s like to be a student at Hoban. It definitely helped to be familiar with the Hoban environment, family, values, and traditions,” she said.

    Since starting  her coaching stint in 2016, Marino’s duties have ranged from teaching stunts and critiquing routines to attending lifting sessions.

    “My cheerleaders inspire me to coach! I know how much FUN I had being a Hoban cheerleader, and I hope that I can provide that same positive and fun environment for the team!” she said.  

    Her optimistic attitude and youthful outlook enable her to be seen as older sister and mentor for the cheerleaders.

    “Leah makes cheer more enjoyable because she is just like us, and she can goof off with us at games, and crack jokes,” junior Tori Hornacek said of her coach.  “She also loves to memorize vines and recite them during practices to lighten our moods after long days at school. She is a kid at heart and it help us to like cheering more.”

    Marino is currently receiving her degree in public relations with a minor in Spanish at the University of Akron. Her proximity allows her to interact closely with the cheer team and her alma mater.  

    “I love just being back at Hoban and the people I get to interact with on a daily basis, for example, my BFFs Coach Lindsey and Coach Lawrence,” Marino said.

    Marino hopes to guide the team in a positive and effective way. She hopes to create a fun, safe environment for the team, just like hers was back in 2013.

    “Also, I hope to teach everyone how to properly do a push-up,” Marino said jokingly.

    The cheer team is certainly grateful Marino found her way back to Hoban, and appreciates all she does for the squad. Her life still revolves around pom poms, dance counts, and hair bows— only now from the new perspective of a loving coach.