Profile: Mara Smialek

Welcoming the new OPHS cheer coach

Mara Smialak, known to her students as Coach Mara, has started her first year of coaching the OPHS cheer varsity and JV teams. 

“I grew up cheering, dancing and tumbling. I’ve always loved the sport of cheer,” Smialak said.  “It’s fun and exciting. What I love most about cheer is how it brings people together to support other teams.”

Smialak’s degree is in elementary education and early childhood. She is a former third-grade teacher and taught at both Oak Hills Elementary and Viewpoint School. 

“I coached the varsity cheer squad at Oak Park back in 2004-2007 when I first moved to California from Pittsburgh, PA,” Smialak said. “In addition to returning as the varsity cheer coach, I am a mom of three girls that cheer competitively.” 

Cheer, according to Smialak, is all about working together as a team and becoming a family in the process. 

”I would really like to bring a sense of family and community to this cheer team. I tell the athletes regularly that our goal is to function as a family that loves, cares for, respects and genuinely enjoys spending time with each other,” Smialak said. “We will focus on building each other up so we can be a strong team with a rock solid foundation.”

Smialak hopes to leave a lasting impact on the team and the athletes as they come to move on in their careers.

“The impact I hope to have on the athletes, especially the seniors, is that of a fun, positive, uplifting and confidence-building experience. It’s so important to me that my athletes learn life lessons through participating in cheer and being part of their team,” Smialak said. “I hope to help them grow and develop not only as athletes but as positive, productive young ladies as well!”