Mary Ellen Kirkwood – Poor, captain of the squad, wants to be a fashion model in NYC, leads Patrick on as if it’s her own personal sport. Moves to NYC after graduation, then comes back to Tarenton because she’s decided Pres is her one true love.
Nancy Goldstein – Sort of new in town, Jewish, doesn’t really have a definable personality. She dates around a lot. Leaves Tarenton to attend Brown after graduation.
Angie Poletti – Easygoing, a doormat. We are reminded every book that she’s not really that pretty and has to watch her weight, but everyone loves her. Leaves Tarenton to attend the state university after graduation.
Olivia Evans – A year younger than the rest of the squad, Olivia is small and often mistaken for a junior high student. Had a heart defect and multiple surgeries as a child. Dates Walt until he leaves for college. Captain of the new squad her senior year.
Pres Tilford – Poor little rich boy who joins the squad to make his father mad. A ladies man who falls in love at the drop of a hat with the most random girls possible. He and Mary Ellen have a back-and-forth fling and he also hooks up with Vanessa when he’s got nothing better to do. Sticks around in Tarenton to run a moving business with Patrick after graduation. Falls in love with Mary Ellen for some reason.
Walt Manners – The awkward, funny male cheerleader whose parents are local TV hosts. He often does stupid things and thinks he’s the second coming of Sherlock Holmes. Eventually dumps Olivia and moves to NYC to attend Columbia after graduation.
New Squad (+ Olivia)
Jessica Bennett – Talented and beautiful with daddy issues and a penchant for making other girls jealous of her, Jessica dates Patrick while fighting all-consuming jealousy over his past relationship with Mary Ellen.
Tara Armstrong – A spoiled and sometimes manipulative redhead who is a daddy’s girl with entitlement issues, Tara has “layers” and deep down just doesn’t feel special enough to ever deserve anyone’s love.
Hope Chang – Quiet, perfect, and obedient, Hope is the new Angie, I guess. She’s Chinese-American and dates Peter even though her parents don’t approve of the relationship at first.
Melissa Brezneski – Quiet, timid ballerina who is named the squad’s alternate cheerleader after Coach Engborg decides they need a substitute. Melissa beats out the psychopath Diana for the spot.
Sean Dubrow – Another version of Pres, full of himself, and a ladies man. Sean has an off-and-on flirtation with Tara and fills his time dating a random girl every other day.
Peter Rayman – A quiet guy who was raised by his single mother. Starts out with a crush on Hope, but doesn’t have much experience with girls. Somehow he wins Hope over and they start dating despite his awkwardness. Almost falls for Diana’s schemes when she first moves to town.
Other Important Characters
Ardith Engborg – The tough but caring cheerleading coach for most of the series.
Diana Tucker – The new squad’s version of Vanessa Barlow, except scarily more psychotic. She transfers to Tarenton and immediately sets out to try and make a vacancy on the squad so that she can join.
Patrick Henley – Mary Ellen’s plaything, he is forever devoted to her but she won’t commit to him because she wants to get out of Tarenton one day and she’s embarrassed that he and his father are garbage collectors. When Mary Ellen moves to NYC, Patrick finally gets over her (praise) and starts dating Jessica. Becomes partners with Pres in their own moving business.
Vanessa Barlow – The OG squad’s main antagonist. She is the superintendent’s daughter who gets away with everything and has it out for the squad because she tried out and didn’t make it. Gets shipped off to Switzerland after graduation.
Random Love Interests, Family Members & Minor Characters
Alex Hague – A British guy Nancy dates for one book who reminds her of David Bowie. He goes back to England pretty quickly.
Andrew Poletti – Angie’s little brother
Arne Peterson – Angie’s nerdy boyfriend who breaks up with her to have more time with computers
Ben Adamson – Ben is first introduced as the captain of the Garrison basketball team, who Nancy dates to the horror of everyone in Tarenton. When Ben transfers to Tarenton they resume their relationship, but first he is tempted to throw basketball games for money and then he dies during a mountain climbing excursion with Patrick and Olivia.
Blake Norton – A New York City native who Pres meets when the squad films their Clean Soap commercial. She later visits Pres in Tarenton.
Christopher Page – Super hot new guy from California who dates Angie. Drives a sweet tangerine-colored Camaro.
Claudia Randall – Another Pres girlfriend who hides the fact that she needs an operation to prevent her from becoming paralyzed after getting thrown off a horse. It’s convoluted. She’s from Virginia and pretty boring otherwise.
David Douglas Duffy – Really annoying sports reporter who dates Olivia and always wears a hat. Picked up Olivia the same night he wrote an article about how terrible the squad is.
Donny Parrish – Tarenton basketball player who dates Mary Ellen. Walt at one point suspects him of point shaving.
Eric Campbell – The first guy Nancy really dates after Ben dies. She meets him while volunteering with a handicapped athlete swimming program, which Eric is in charge of. Eric wants her to go to community college with him instead of Brown – PLEASE!
Gemma Kirkwood – Mary Ellen’s little sister
Josh Breitman – Temporarily replaces Pres on the squad when Pres runs away from home. Dates Nancy.
Kate Harmon – A frizzy-haired, glasses-wearing girl who attends St. Cloud and dates Sean after meeting him at the local sports clinic. We are reminded every time she appears that she is not exactly Sean’s normal type.
Kerry Elliot – One of Pres’ girlfriends near the beginning of the series. We are told that she is chubby, a couple years younger than Pres, and not his normal type. Pres steals her away from Angie’s brother, Andrew.
Lisa Hutton – Random girl who dates Sean off and on and makes Tara jealous every time.
Marc – Angie’s college boyfriend who breaks up with her via Dear John letter
Michael – A cross country team member who briefly dates Olivia
Monica Stevenson – A Garrison cheerleader who dates Sean and steals Tarenton routines.
Mrs. Oetjen – Tarenton’s principal
Nick Stewart – The new math teacher who Tara falls in love with and dates before he finds out she’s a student. He still wants to date her and risk getting fired, but Tara makes the grown-up decision to end it.
Todd Eldridge – A new student, son of the new hospital administrator, who plays Jessica and Melissa.
Tony Pell – A motorcycle-driving, animal-loving “bad boy” who Hope gets involved with after he helps get her car started on the side of the road and co-adopts a stray puppy with her.
Troy – Another dumb athlete who dates Mary Ellen