Elizabeth Martinez and Lindsay Zybrick have been given a unique opportunity and have run with it.
Martinez, a recent graduate of South Brunswick High School, and Zybrick, a recent graduate of Monroe High School, are second-year members of the Middlesex County All-Star cheerleading squad for Snapple Bowl XX.
The fact that each cheerleader has been asked to participate in the event for two years is a rarity.
“I was so excited to come back,” said Martinez whose cheering career will conclude at this year’s Snapple Bowl game. She’ll move on to study nursing at Middlesex County College.
“I was able to participate last year because I was captain as a junior (at South Brunswick), and I always heard great things about the experience because the girls were always to talking good things about it. When I was asked to come back, I was even more excited because it is so rare and it was so exciting and a great experience last year. I’m genuinely excited to do it again.”
Zybrick, whose cheering career will also conclude at this year’s game and will attend the University of South Carolina, expressed similar sentiments.
“It’s such an honor to be asked to come back because it’s such a great cause and such a great experience,” she said. “I learned what it was all about during my junior year — meeting the kids at the Lakeview School and the energy of the game. I’m so excited to come back and do it again.”
All proceeds from the contest, which pits a team of recently graduated high school seniors from Middlesex County against counterparts from Union County, will benefit Children’s Specialized Hospital and the Lakeview School in Edison. The game will be played at 7 p.m. July 18 at Kean University’s Alumni Stadium.
More than $415,000 has been raised for the charities since the Snapple Bowl’s inception including a single-game record $47,000 last summer.
The Middlesex County All-Stars, players and cheerleaders alike, will make their annual visit to the Lakeview School on Monday.
Middlesex County cheerleading coach Colleen Myers of Spotswood High School has leaned on the two veterans in leading this year’s preparation for the big game.
“Colleen emailed me the music for the halftime routine and has allowed me to choreograph some of the routine,” Martinez said.
Martinez said she’s enjoyed the added responsibilities.
“It’s great,” she said. “I’ve been used to (leading) being a captain as junior and senior (at South Brunswick) and having that carry over to the Snapple Bowl. It’s nice to know that (Myers) can look to me for whatever she needs for another voice.”
Zybrick has served in a similar capacity during this week of practice and thinks everything is coming together swiftly.
“I think we’ve been doing a great job,” she said. “A lot of us know each other from seeing each other at football games is the fall. We’re coming together really well as a squad, and our halftime routine is a little bit more than halfway done in two nights so that’s reflective of our camaraderie.”
Both girls expressed the same occurrence as the lasting memory of the Snapple Bowl experience that they’ll take with them for a lifetime.
“It’s definitely visiting the Lakeview School,” said Martinez. “Having the pep rally for the kids and making posters for them and the whole interaction is going to be a long-lasting memory for me.”
“The visit is empowering,” said Zybrick. “You realize there’s a reason why you’re doing what your doing, and the kids are amazed to see your there. It’s amazing to be a part of something greater than a football game.”