The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

The student news site of West Chicago Community High School

Wildcat Chronicle

Humans Of WEGO: Sophia Spinelli, a leader with her own “spin”

Senior Sophia Spinelli balances passion and health.
Senior Sophia Spinelli is a leader in Pep Club and National Honor Society, and a flyer on the cheer squad. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Spinelli)

In the field house, a faint chant of “WEGO, WEGO, let’s GO!” can be heard in the background as cheerleaders practice their flips and tricks on blue mats. Meanwhile, others train for their after-school sports routines. For “flyers,” there is a sense of danger in the air as they soar, feeling a whoosh of wind hit their bodies before plummeting back to Earth.

That was the position senior Sophia Spinelli used to be when she was the Varsity cheerleader flyer, a role in which the individual allows themselves to be tossed in the air, do a couple of flips, and (hopefully) be caught by the team before hitting the ground. That feeling that turns the stomach inside out. A role she filled in for after COVID.

Spinelli strikes a pose along with the cheer team’s second place State trophy in 2023. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Spinelli)

“Being a flyer is definitely like a unique experience for me, especially because I came in with a lot of gymnastics background. So I definitely knew how to flip and I knew how to be in the air. But being the one thrown [in the air] was a little bit scary for a long time,” Sophia said.

Of course, nothing great comes easy.

“I had a couple of experiences with some concussions. But, you know, I came back and ended up I ended up loving it. I still, I miss it. Now that it’s over” said Sophia.

Inspiration was rooted in her childhood: she dreamed of being a gymnast, looking to her sister figure and role model; her cousin who serves in the Marines. Yet, WEGO does not have a gymnastics team, and the next in line as a substitute is cheerleading.

“My cousin, she’s one of the biggest role models I have. She was actually competitive gymnast. So I saw her doing that, and I had like a desire to also like follow in her footsteps. I thought it was the coolest thing. So I always had a passion for gymnastics,” Sophia said.

Currently, Sophia teaches Cheer, part of Youth Cheer, a program that combines aspiring young cheerleaders with high school mentors, a partnership for anyone interested in teaching, learning, and background. She has been one of the coaches for three years, and the abilities the children learn are reflected in their competitions.

“Let’s start with her passion and selflessness for coaching youth cheerleaders. She loves watching their growth and self confidence. Her determination to help the cheer team succeed at competition is admirable but more importantly the life skills these young cheerleaders gain will serve them throughout their lives,” Sophia’s parents, Rosy and Robert Spinelli, said in a joint email.

Spinelli with her dad, Robert, in earlier years. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Spinelli)

Yet, as in every sport, there comes the risk of injuries and setbacks, and Sophia has a few wounds: mainly concussions during her years as a cheerleader.

“You know, having like a brain injury that was pretty serious. Um, it was a kind of a[n] awakening for me to realize that, like, I need to kind of align my priorities and not take things for granted because they could really be taken from me,” Sophia said.

Her cheer coach at West Chicago Community High School, Beth Trimble, has noticed Sophia’s ability to grow from her injuries and set her own goals to improve within the sport.

“She had several major injuries that sidelined her for a year in cheer.  She came back just as strong.  Very impressed with her work ethic,” Trimble said.

One concussion, however, was so severe Sophia was out of cheer for a year, going to doctors, taking sports medicine, and seeing a pediatric neurologist. The bright side is her connections helped her keep moving forward, and her unwavering resilience.

“I was actually [concussed] pretty bad. So I was out, gosh, I do have been a year, give or take. I’m seeing different doctors, sports medicine and pediatric neurology. So definitely went through a kind of a rough time, but my family helped me get through it for sure. And the youth program definitely helped me stay connected to athletics, even if I couldn’t necessarily be out there myself. So that helped a lot,” Sophia said.

During that time, Sophia decided to pursue kinesiology. She would like to support athletes when injuries occur eventually. Her thoughts as to a future career center around that idea of serving others, instead of being served.

“So actually, I come from a really athletic family. My brother is a two sport athlete, and my dad was also a football coach. So I guess that’s where I get my coaching from. So next year, I am going to study kinesiology, in hopes of being a either an athletic trainer or sports medicine. So I want to, you know, kind of get back to what was given to me through my concussions and work with athletes and help them get back to what they love doing the most,” Sophia said.

During the fall football season, Spinelli actually pulled double-duty, alternating her time cheering with playing clarinet in the marching band, along with fellow musician Emily Krause, also a senior. (Photo courtesy of Sophia Spinelli)

Kinesiology is the study of anatomy, the way the body moves, and muscle joints, that is applied to educational and physical purposes.

“My best explanation I give people is anatomy on crack. So basically, everything you could think about the human body is kinesiology. So it was the study of the movement of the human body,” Sophia said.

The pathway to pursue her goal, is long and hard, with AP courses and Honor classes to join, however, she enjoys the challenge and feels motivated to push with her classmates.

“I’ve always tried to push myself academically. I take the AP honors route when I can, and I feel like that’s really helped me. kind of challenge myself academically. I feel like I’ve had a really good experience and a lot of opportunities. Here we go to challenge me academically. I mean, I’m surrounded by really smart people. So we’re always I feel like we’re always kind of pushing each other to do the best thing and amazing teachers, too. I’ve learned so much my time here,” Sophia said.

Sophia’s AP teachers have noticed her leadership in the classroom.

“On a daily basis, she steps up and takes initiative during labs and activities. She helps keep her group members stay on task which is hard at times since AP is 10th hour but she is always actively engaged and motivated to complete the activity or lab at hand,” AP Biology teacher Brianne Ferrerio said.

Those thoughts were echoed by others who have gotten to know Sophia well.

“Sophia was always prepared to do her one-on-one conference assessments with me each week. She exceeded the amount of sentences required every week! She was an avid reader, who read several books over the course of our time together last semester,” English teacher Mary Fremeau said.

To juggle all those activities and future goals is challenging for most, the way she handles her responsibilities, comes from Sophia’s strong ability to communicate with others.

“She communicated with her coaches, boss, and teachers to find a plan that would work for all of them so she could thrive in all areas,” best friend and senior Emily Krause said.

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Fernando Calvillo-Morales
Fernando Calvillo-Morales, Multimedia Content Creator
Senior Fernando Calvillo-Morales has put a lot of his time into clubs and sports including, Rock Climbing Club, the Varsity tennis team, Robotics Team, yearbook, and Compass. Fernando is clearly a leader within the West Chicago community. He has always been very dedicated, and applied himself to being the best he can be. A significant part of Fernando is his humor: most would say he is quite a jokester. He can never fail to make someone laugh and instantly improve their day. Loyalty is also an especially important quality to Fernando, and he is a firm believer in helping others find success. When Fernando is not found drinking chia water, he is listening to NF. His favorite part about NF is his ability to sing and go in-depth about the highs and lows of life, and how to overcome obstacles. 
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