Cheer Squad Earns 6th at Nationals

Mindy Luo, Visual Media Editor

The competitive cheer team placed 6th in its division at the United Spirit Association national competition in Anaheim on February 14.

The team attended its 1st regional competition on December 14, placing 3rd out of 12 schools to earning a berth at the national event.

While many students are likely familiar with Campolindo’s sideline cheer squad, the competition team is comprised almost entirely of different athletes. Freshman Bettina Curletto is the only cheerleader who participates on both squads.

“Competition cheer is a lot more challenging [than sideline cheer], because you are only on stage for 2 minutes and 30 seconds, whereas sideline you are not really competing, you are just cheering for another team,” said senior Bella Brocato.

Competitive cheer routines are comprised of 3 disciplines: tumbling, stunts, and dance. Routines are judged on sharpness and timing, as well as stunt execution. After months of preparation, the success of a competitive season comes down to a 2.5-minute performance on stage.

At the USA national event, Campolindo received a half-point deduction due to a bobbled stunt.  As a result, they finished behind 5 other squads that earned perfect scores. 

Ascension to the national stage was not without adversity. Sophomore Charlotte Anderson was sidelined for months due to a serious concussion but was still able to attend Nationals, while senior Liv Clizbe became ill and had to miss out on the competition. As a result, various stunts had to be rearranged multiple times in order to accommodate the missing athletes.

Right before the competition, the team was told by judges that their routine included a potentially illegal stunt which would result in a point deduction if performed on the mat, as dictated by the National Cheer Association.

“I believe the team performed the best they possibly could given the circumstances that we went through. Unfortunately, we had some stunts that were in the gray area as to whether or not they would be allowed, and so we had to make some changes at the very last during warm-ups and last-minute changes like that may be stressful and overwhelming for people especially when they’ve practiced the same routine over and over again,” said coach Erin Hagerty. 

According to Brocato however, the “illegal” move would not have actually resulted in any point deductions. 

“We may be hard on the girls this year as seniors, but they really worked hard. We could’ve done better but we really pushed our hardest which is what matters the most,” said Brocato. 

“I loved the thrill of competing and going out on stage and performing our routine for the last time,” said sophomore Caroline Fitzpatrick.

Attending Nationals is more than an opportunity to compete. “Team bonding is important because cheer relies a lot on teamwork and when we have conflict on the team it disrupts the safety while performing a routine,” said Brocato. “As we’ve seen in past years, some of the girls have been untrusting and that’s how mistakes and injuries happen.”

After the competition, the cheerleaders spent 2 days at Disneyland with the rest of the competitors from across the country.

“I hope to see the program grow and bring in new athletes. While I hope the athletes who have been participating will try-out again in the future as well, I believe this program needs fresh perspective and new attitudes,” said Hagerty. “My goal is to create both a Junior Varsity and Varsity level team to promote a bigger and more comprehensive competitive cheer program.”

“It is hard to get people on the team who actually have experience. They would rather go somewhere else than a place with a bad reputation,” said Brocato

This year’s roster included just 8 athletes, down from last year’s squad of 11. Still in its infancy, this is the 3rd year competitive cheerleading has been recognized by the California Interscholastic Federation.

For the senior cheerleaders who had traveled to Anaheim in 2018, performing in the Anaheim Convention Center and going to Disneyland brought back many fond memories. “Being one of the oldest on the team and I’ve learned a lot about teamwork and in a comp cheer situation,” said Brocato. “It brings back memories of the old seniors and I actually cried because I’m the one now who is leaving.”