Montclair State University’s cheer team and the campus community are mourning the loss of head coach Jayne Shalkowski. Known to the team as “Mrs. S,” Shalkowski coached the varsity cheer team with her daughter Staci for 14 years.
During her time as coach, the team has been to National Cheer Association Nationals in Daytona, where they compete each year and have taken home many awards.
Members of the cheer team reflected on the impact Shalkowski had on their experience.
“She took me under her wing and taught me how to love cheerleading again,” said former captain Jacquie Moore. “She was an amazing coach and inspired me to be a leader on the team.”
When she wasn’t coaching Montclair State Cheer, Shalkowski could be seen coaching cheer at St. John Vianney High School (SJVHS), a private school in Holmdel, New Jersey.
She was also a guidance counselor there, a position she held for 40 years. To some, she was known as a second mother and even helped students decide where they would attend college.
Sophomore Ava Tortorici knew Shalkowski back in high school when she transferred to SJVHS her junior year.
“It was a new school for me and I was nervous that the experience would not go smoothly,” Tortorici said. “Ms. S took me under her wing and became one of my biggest supporters and confidants. She was larger than life and one of the funniest, most down to earth people I have ever met.”
With preparations for the next season underway, the team is planning to dedicate their season to her.
Senior education major Brianna Kovach considered Shalkowski more than just her cheer coach.
“Ms. S was more than a coach,” Kovach said. “She was family and gave us 100 percent of her time and dedication. This season is for her.”
Shalkowski was 61. She leaves behind her mother, husband, daughter, three brothers and many others.
Funeral services will be this Friday at 8 a.m. in her hometown of Middletown, New Jersey.