The school’s cheer team approaches the end of their season, having recently competed in the intermediate division at the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA) High School National Championships in Dallas, Texas.
After receiving a bid to nationals at a home NCA camp over the summer, the cheerleaders traveled to Dallas for the two-day national competition from Jan. 21 to Jan. 22, where they placed seventh out of eighteen teams, despite the many obstacles they had faced throughout the season.
The team, led by Captains Seniors Karly Much, Sarah Jamieson and Allison Cornell, learned a new routine in just two weeks, as op-posed to the months it usually takes to prepare a routine. Additionally, neither of the coaches, Head Coach Nina Saifi or Assisting Coach Marissa Giacomo were able to accompany the team to Nationals. Flights had been either cancelled or delayed, half of the team got stuck in an elevator and there were technical difficulties regarding music during the performance. Nonetheless, the team put in extra effort, doubling their practices to hit a perfect routine the first day, scoring 95.2 out of 100 points.
“With all the obstacles this year, we have had no choice but to learn to work together and trust each other. Cheerleading is such a bonding sport, and in the end, our hard work paid off because the routines we performed in Dallas were the best performances we have ever done,” Junior Jillian Takeuchi said.
The school’s spirit program, consisting of 23 girls, five of which are completely new, was separated for the first time this year into separate sideline and competition teams. While the side-line JV and Varsity teams cheer mainly at school and local events, the competition team competes in various regional and national competitions and tournaments.
Over the course of the season, the competition team has been successful at United Spirit Association and JAMZ Cheer and Dance regionals, ending with a regional record ranging from third place to Grand Champions.
“I consider every girl on the team my sister since we all have built such strong bonds, and the newcomers quickly became a part of our family. Despite the difficulties that have come our way, we all always stick together because of our determination and love for cheerleading,” Junior Brooke Darrough said.
The team began practicing two to three days per week in July and ended the competition sea-son in late Jan. Despite three dislocated fingers, a sprained wrist, a change in coaches mid-season and two girls leaving the roster, the team continued to compete.
In order to raise funds to offset equipment and competition expenses, the girls held a breakfast fundraiser at Junior Bella Kouretas’ family restaurant John’s of Willow Glen, sold poinsettias and Christmas trees during the holiday season and hosted a Junior Spirit Camp to introduce younger children to the sport of cheerleading. As the season comes to an end, the team will reduce the amount of practices and mainly focus on cheering for school events, such as boys’ basketball games and the annual volleyball Tiki Match.
“I adore these kids and they deserve the world for the hard work they have all put into this season. You can not fake being a family and that is exactly what these girls are, to each other and to me,” Saifi said.