By Jenelyn Russo     1/3/2018

After spending time as a cheerleader in middle school, Katherine Criger stepped away from the sidelines to pursue choir. But it didn’t take long for her to find her way back. 

“When I got to high school, I really missed the competitive aspect of extra curriculars,” says Criger, “so I got back into it.” 



As a senior member of the Mater Dei High School varsity cheer squad, Criger has a lot of pride in her high school and the teams she supports. 

“I really like representing Mater Dei,” says the 18-year-old. “Probably what I love the most about my team is my teammates and being able to work with them.” 

Criger serves as both a base and a flyer for the Monarchs. Without having much tumbling or stunting experience before joining the squad, it was a challenge to get up to speed. Most all the technique and skills she has Criger learned on her own.  

“Everything moves at such a fast pace. I put in my mindset that I just have to go for it and be open,” says Criger. “I was really putting myself outside of my comfort zone, but it’s a challenge that I overcame.” 

The cheer squad not only supports the school’s sports teams, but participates in competitions of their own, going up against squads from other local high schools. With a new coaching staff in place this year, Criger is looking for her squad to have confidence as they compete. 

“Katherine has been an exceptional athlete from day one,” says Mater Dei cheer coach, Allison Pagnotta. “She always has a bright smile on her face and an absolutely positive attitude every time she is in the gym. I think Katherine is a vital part of the positive atmosphere of this team, as well as being a major contributor of skills.” 

The Costa Mesa resident still sings with the choir and serves her campus as a member of ASB and Campus Ministry. Being a part of the Mater Dei cheer squad has challenged and pushed Criger in positive ways.  

“I’ve learned to work really well with people and bring the best out in others as well as myself,” says Criger. “Cheer has really taught me to be ambitious. Go for what you want and set your goals high.” 

Criger would like to continue her cheer career as she moves on to college next fall. As the third oldest in a family of 10 children, she is continually inspired by the dedication of her parents who support Criger and her siblings in all ways, including keeping faith as an integral part of their family.  

“Both my parents are incredible people,” says Criger. “I’ve always learned to put God first in everything. No matter what I do, I put everything in God’s hands. It helps to move forward and trust that God will take care of you.”