Tumbling adds new opportunities for the cheer team

September 26, 2012 — by Elijah Yi and Nick Chow

Fresh off a summer cheer camp at UC Santa Cruz, the cheerleading squad is anticipating an exciting year of changes and competition.

Fresh off a summer cheer camp at UC Santa Cruz, the cheerleading squad is anticipating an exciting year of changes and competition.
Cheer adviser Laressa Mead said that unlike the last four years when they attended Universal Cheerleaders Association camp, the timing worked about that they could go to UC Santa Cruz. During their time at the camp, the girls invested hours into perfecting their routines for the upcoming season.
“We’d go to one of the fields, and then we’d learn … dances and cheers [all day],” freshman Summer Smith said. “We definitely got a lot closer as a team.”
Cheer camp also allows the members to develop chemistry.
“They’re living at the dorms, and eating at the dorms, and doing everything together for four days.” Mead said. “So lots of team-building activities, and that unity that it brings, is one of the most important takeaways.”
One major change this year is that Mead is no longer the head coach of the team. She has taken an adviser role, with the team coached by Los Gatos High School alumnus Ashley Arnold.
In addition, this year’s members are now incorporating tumbling into their routines. 
“We have a bunch of really good underclassmen, [and] because a lot of them are gymnasts they can tumble really well,” senior Nadya Shahin said. “They have a lot of muscle, so they are good for base for our stunting, basing or flying.”
Smith is a skilled gymnast who is bringing her skills to the squad.
“My gymnastics helps [me] a lot because I’ve done gymnastics for forever,” Smith said. “I think gymnastics has definitely helped me to be able to learn the routines faster.”
Mead expresses optimism over the possibilities opened to the cheer team with the addition of the new members.
“We were fortunate this year to have new girls on the team that are gymnasts, and have those tumbling skills … Obviously from the crowd’s reactions, a lot of people enjoyed watching the tumbling,” Mead said. “I think it just brings a lot of excitement to the routines that we didn’t have as much as before.”
There are many competitions down the line that the squad will have to prepare for.
The first competition is in November at Fremont, with the following event in December at Merrill West High School in Tracy, Mead said. In February, the team will travel to UC Davis for a competition that falls on Super Bowl Sunday. If the team qualifies, it will advance to the national competition in Anaheim in March.
The new aspects of the team have opened the doors for different routines, and the squad is thrilled for what lies ahead.
“I think one of the big differences is the fact that we have so much tumbling, [and] that that can really be incorporated into a lot of routines,” Mead said. “Other than that, [there are] a lot of the same expectations for the team, a lot of the same community projects we’ll be doing, and working and supporting all the teams at Saratoga.”
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