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Cori Passarelli 'Cheers' Community On

By Jeannie Gregory, 02/05/19, 5:15PM EST


Cori Passarelli leads the fans at Rockford's Homecoming game.

Something to cheer about

There are some people in this world who just seem to have an aura of magic around them. They draw people in with their smile, their goodness, and their down-to-earth joy of life. If you happened to be at a Rockford varsity football game this fall, you would have certainly noticed a perfect example of one.

Ram junior Cori Passareli, who was a Rockford High School fall sideline cheerleader, brings joy to everything she does and everyone around her.

The Ram junior landed a spot on the Rockford squad this year. The feat earned her a varsity letter. It seemed like destiny. Cori had plenty of experience in the role, after all, never letting Down syndrome slow her down. She started in Ready Set Cheer in elementary school, cheered two years in middle school and was on the junior varsity squad her freshman and sophomore years. The RHS fall sideline cheer head coach Renee Dengler says Cori has that special spark and charm that is needed to become a cheerleader, and she had the moves.

“All athletes are required to attend tryouts,” shares Dengler. “They are taught the fight song and are judged on their motions (placement, tightness) vocals, facials, jumps and gymnastics. There is a lot of new material at the varsity level and Cori worked very hard this season to make sure she was prepared for each game.”

Cori gives credit to her middle school cheer coaches for preparing her to earn a spot on the high school team.

“Bobbie Demorest, Danielle Stulp, Kassy Clark and Torri Mills helped me so much when I was first starting to cheer,” Cori shares. “They encouraged me to keep trying and to work hard. I wouldn’t be where I am without them.”

Cori was not only prepared, she always glowed at the games. It’s easy to see this – even far away from the sideline as Cori gushes about being a cheerleader.

“I love everything about cheer,” she explains. “The uniforms, the crowd, the girls. I love to get the crowd excited about the game. My favorite part Is cheering under the lights on Friday nights. It’s everything - the crowd, the noise and the game.”

Cori is not only a cheerleader, she is currently the team manager of the school’s competitive cheer team. Besides her regular schoolwork, she is also enrolled in the Community Based Instruction (CBI) program. Cori says she keeps up with her schoolwork, despite being so busy. If she is prompted to say what suffers, she points out that she should probably read more. But, a teen only has so much time in a day.

An athlete, Cori is also a medalist in the Special Olympics (SO). She listed off all the sports she’s involved in. She competed in SO track & field when she was younger. She also competed in SO swimming for a couple of years, although she is taking a break right now because it clashes with her cheer and gymnastics. Currently, she is in training for SO snowshoeing and gymnastics.

She has also participated in a number of triathlons and 5K races through her involvement with West Michigan’s My Team Triumph. Those include the Michigan Titanium and Tri Del Sol Triathlons, and this past year she competed in both the Spartan Stores and the Alger Heights 5Ks.

Well rounded, it isn’t all about sports. Cori has been involved in Girl Scouts and is currently a volunteer for Clara Cookies, a non-profit organization that raises funds for adoption grants through Team Orphans, helping children with special needs find loving homes. 

Cori is always watching the world around her and intrigued by new adventures.

“Cori will come home with something new she wants to do,” says her mom, Sue. “If she could, she would participate in everything. Mom has to draw the line somewhere, because I do not have enough hours in my day!”

It’s that “never stop” attitude, all with a smile that impresses Dengler the most.

Cori brings her huge smile every day to practice and games,” she shares. “She brings her ability to show each athlete what it means to be a team player. She does this by never quitting. Her positive personality is exactly what her teammates need to help push them through a tough practice. Cori is a leader - leadership is not about being the best. Leadership is about making everyone else better. Cori has an amazing outlook on life that brings this team together as a family.”

Dengler’s belief was backed by Cori’s actions in front of the football crowd.

“Cori is so proud to be a varsity cheerleader,” her mom shares. “She loved cheering this year with her best friend, senior Katelyn Kennedy. I am so proud of how hard she worked this year to learn all the cheers, and while she can’t always keep up with the girls when they are moving fast, she would make the crowd smile. While the other girls were stunting, Cori would be in front of the student section, getting the students excited about the game. I am so thankful that Coach Renee took a chance on Cori this year and let her live her dream.”

Dengler received a gift in return for her belief in Cori.

“I love when Cori comes to practice and is so excited to tell me about her weekend plans,” she concludes. “The way she describes 'everyday events' makes me see them in a whole new light. She has opened my eyes and my heart to fully see that every day is a blessing and that the small things are actually big things, and to enjoy every moment to the fullest.”

Sue describes her daughter this way, “She brings joy to all who meet her. She loves everyone she meets and makes people feel like they are the most important person in the world.”

It sounds like the one who possesses the positive attitude and sunny smile is doing well cheering people not only on the sideline, but in life, too.

Cori poses with her favorite Ram player - Ian.

Cori poses with coach Renee Dengler when she earns her varsity Letter.

Cori with her best friend Katelyn Kennedy.

Cori cheering at Homecoming.

Cori clowning with the rest of her teammates on the RHS Sideline Cheer Team.