The Dartmouth Youth Football League is forming a new cheerleading team, an inclusive and exciting opportunity for young athletes in the community.

The Challenger Division is designed for athletes (ages 5 to 18) with physical or mental disabilities who are enrolled in school. The program aims to provide these young athletes with a platform to participate in cheerleading.

Participants in the Challenger Division can perform at home games and showcase their routines at various locations.

Courtesy Katie Nicholson
Courtesy Katie Nicholson

Practices are set to start on August 1, with sessions scheduled for one hour each week. While the specific days and times are yet to be announced, the anticipation is building as the community prepares to support and cheer on the athletes.

The DYFL invites all surrounding cities and towns to join this inspiring division, provided their local Pop Warner League does not offer a similar program.

Dartmouth resident Kylie Oliveira has proudly announced her role as the head coach of the Challenger cheerleading team. Oliveira is a registered pediatric nurse at St. Luke's Hospital and a dedicated member of a group of parents and coaches who have continued their involvement with the DYFL even after their children have aged out of the program.

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Joining Oliveira in this endeavor is Katie Nicholson, a first-year coordinator who previously served as a coach. Nicholson was inspired to take on this leadership role after a conversation with Oliveira, who shared her passion for working with children with disabilities.

"She saw other Challenger teams and brought it up to the group and we were all on board," Nicholson said. "It means a lot. We started really growing the league and becoming competitive and don't want anyone left behind, but instead included and feel like they belong and make friendships. It's great we have the volunteers and support to help us offer that team."

Courtesy Katie Nicholson
Courtesy Katie Nicholson

As the Challenger Division kicks off, Nicholson expressed her gratitude for the overwhelming support from Dartmouth and neighboring communities. She highlighted the incredible encouragement they received while on the road, particularly recalling an event in New Jersey where local police, restaurants, and businesses came together to support the team.

Being part of the Challenger Division means joining the competition teams at upcoming showcases, providing these young athletes with the opportunity to shine and demonstrate their skills.

For those interested in joining or learning more about this division, reach out to Katie Nicholson at Your participation and support can make a significant difference in the lives of these young athletes.

Marissa Sebastiao contributed to this report.

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