By Vern Hee
The revamped cheer squad hit the floor during the home basketball games this season. In new head coach George Arceo’s eyes, the team is still seeking respect.
Seventeen girls made the team. The squad has a new look and feel to it. The young team only has two seniors on it. According to Arceo, the girls have gotten back to the basics, learning some 80 choreographed movements and cheers.
“I come up with some of the choreography. I try to get the girls to come up with it most of the time. Different girls will work on the movements and we work to try to put the combinations together. It’s not one person, it’s more than one working on the movements. Some girls just have great ideas and we pick out the great move that I think that will go well,” said Arceo.
The coach draws on his physical fitness background and his dance background to help him with his coaching.
“I have a dancing background and cheer is a bit different because their movements are different, but what I try to do is to try to add a little swag or flair to their movement. The girls pick the music. This is their era more than mine. I want their ideas more than my ideas,” said the coach.
The girls are practicing every day from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The squad was revamped after getting Arceo midway through the season. They had new tryouts after football. The old varsity and junior varsity system was thrown away for just one squad. Arceo will take these girls as far as they want to go.
The girls will take on some new girls in the spring for the football season and during the summer he said they will have camp for the new football season.
Three girls will be leaving the squad at the end of the year.
Dee Handley, a veteran cheerleader with two year’s experience, will graduate at the end of the year.
Handley feels the team is going in the right direction especially if they start going into the stunting and tumbling. The team went away from stunting and tumbling because the lack of a coach with experience in that area.
“For the most part, we do not have the stunting and the tumbling. We know what we have to do and he George is there to give us more ideas. I would like to see more tumbling. Right now I think we are on track. It’s been hard because we had learned a lot during football season and now we have a whole new group for basketball. So we had to re-teach it twice. Cheer is still fun. For me, it comes from the heart. If you want to be cheer then you can cheer,” said Handley. See more on Handley in her feature, today.
The other two cheerleaders leaving are from the girls state champion soccer team, Haley Sladek and Ainoa Iturrioz.
Sladek is a senior and joined the team for the fun of it.
“I remember going home at the end of the day and crying a lot in the beginning. It was not easy learning all this stuff. I really did not think it would be this hard,” said Sladek.
Iturrioz is an exchange student from Arrasate, Spain. She came to experience America and live with an American family and go to school.
At the end of the year she returns to Spain.
In the fall, she played with the Trojans state champion soccer team and even scored a goal for the team. In the winter season, she decided she wanted to try out for the cheerleading squad and she made it.
Arceo likes the fact that he has athletes from other sports. He said he has an open door policy for the girls to go play their sport and then when finished, come back to cheer.
Arceo said he will bring stunting and tumbling back to the program.
“I will wait till the end of the year to get certified. This means I have to take a certification course over the summer which means this type of thing will come back to cheer sometime next year,” said coach.