The award ceremony started. Winners were announced. Tensions grew between Bell and South East high schools, anticipating first place. When Bell won second place; it was then that it started raining hugs and high fives for the lady Jaguars.
“Honestly, I was scared thinking that maybe Bell had won because they did bring it,” said Ms. Galarza, a history teacher for the Business, Innovation & Leadership small school and cheer coach. “I hadn’t felt like that [because] a team has never made us sweat like that in a long time.”
According to Ms. Galarza, the tensions in the competition was a good thing for the cheerleaders because they know that things do not come easily.
Kimberly Medina, a senior in the Health, Science & Environment small school, and a captain who has been participating in this competition for five years, said, “I’m really happy because it’s my senior year and I really wanted to win so that we can leave off with a big win.” Medina hopes that the cheerleaders can carry it out to next year as well.
The varsity team competed in the non-tumbling division, but that was not always the case.
“Initially, we [were] registered for the regular division, which has the tumbling category in it. When we saw [that] they were offering non-tumbling, [so] we changed our division,” said Galarza. “That was difficult because we had to remove tumbling that we had in the routine.”
According to Galarza, the difficult part was creating something that would still look nice and eye-catching without using tumbling, because that the tumbling part was one of the nicest parts of the routine.
Although changing their routine was a challenge the team had to face, another challenge the team had to face was the change in music, a couple of weeks prior to the competition.
“The second change we had to make was that our music company got shut down,” said Galarza. In order to compete, the copyrighted music has to be licensed.
Now that the cheerleaders had to change routine and music, it was to their disadvantage that they could not have full practices every day. Mondays and Tuesdays, the cheerleaders are in Woodcraft Rangers, so they are not allowed to stunt on those days. The only days the cheerleaders are allowed to do stunts and have an official practice are Wednesdays and Thursdays.
“I feel like when we use to practice every single day, it gave them more time to mess around and not really be on task,” said Galarza. “Now that we only have two days out of the week to really practice well, everybody is very focused. They’re on it because they know we only have limited time.”
Galarza feels that this year, the group is more united, mainly because of all the years that this group have spent together.
Valerie Ramirez, a senior in the Business, Innovation & Leadership small school, and a captain who has participated in the competition since she was 8 years old said, “I feel that we’re more of a family. Everyone accepts where they are at, everyone pushes each other to get better.”
According to Galarza, for the past three years at JAMZ, somebody has fallen. But this year, the cheer “curse” was finally broken.
“I just try to keep them in a calm state-of-mind,” she said. “I [also] try to stay calm because I feel like my energy really rubs off on the girls. If they see me nervous, then that might shake their confidence a little bit.”
Galarza always try to tell her athletes to keep on going and recover if they ever mess up. Backstage, she only rehearses the parts in which she feels are the strongest, mainly to intimidate the opponents.
“At the end of the day, we all pushed together and we were there for each other. We try to give each other an extra push,” said Medina.
Now that the JAMZ competition is done, the cheer team is looking forward to the USA Nationals.
“Hopefully, Mr. Nunez and administration will approve this trip. It’s like the Super Bowl [for us],” Galarza said.