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Immaculata-La Salle's cheerleading squad juggles schoolwork with practice

MIAMI | Yes, Immaculata-La Salle works a lot to build a champion. But the cheerleading squad also teaches lessons their athletes can take to the classroom and beyond.

Junior Andrea Dutkowski is proof. She not only has a schedule stacked with honors classes. She also undergoes tutoring for the Scholastic Aptitude Test.

Dutkowski especially takes pride in StormMiami, a business she co-owns with fellow student Alexia Menendez. They design sweatpants and hoodies, donating 20 percent of the profits to hurricane relief in the Bahamas.

She said cheerleading coach Coral Buxeda helped by giving the athletes a full calendar of the season, so they could fit other activities around cheerleading. Dutkowski also said that the athletes have 30 minutes before practice to study.

Captain Sofia Penas, also a junior, said the athletes help each other. “The girls are pretty smart,” Penas said. “Sometimes if we’re struggling in a subject and another girl is smarter, especially in math, we help each other out.”

That’s just as well, because Buxeda demands the athletes keep their grades up. She checks grades every month.

Freshman Sofia Plasencia is also in several honors classes. She said it’s a challenge, especially when the team is traveling. “Practice was my little break,” she said. “It’s hanging out with my friends, but it’s also work, exercise and a stress reliever.”

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