Cheerleaders hard work pays off as honors roll in

Some hardworking kids have given El Roble Intermediate School something to cheer about.

The El Roble Cheerleading Squad recently won the Cheer Pros State Championship at the Ontario Citizens Bank Arena, and then went on to be named Best of the West in the subsequent finals held at Cal State Long Beach.

The proud 7th and 8th grade girls came home from the championship wearing sweatshirts commemorating the competition and carrying a banner to hang in the gym.

“They were very excited. It was a good moment for them,” said cheer advisor Vanessa Mejia-Rapp.

Ms. Mejia-Rapp’s daughter happens to be on the squad.

“It’s kind of nice to share that with her this year,” she said.

She emphasizes that the win represents a lot of hard work on the part of all of the girls. They hone their cheerleading skills 2 days a week during the year, usually for about 2-and-a-half hours followed by 30 minutes of tumbling. During the lead-up to a competition, they generally add a Saturday practice as well.

“Cheerleading is definitely different than it was back when I was in high school. There is a lot more gymnastics and stunts,” said Ms. Mejia-Rapp, an El Roble technology teacher whose own background is in dancing. “We’ve got girls doing back-handsprings, round-off back handsprings and multiple handsprings as well.”

El Roble Cheer has a winning tradition and, though last year’s squad didn’t win Best of the West, they also took home Cheer Pros State Championship honors. Along with undertaking 5 to 8 competitions each year, the cheerleaders root for El Roble’s flag football and basketball teams. They also don their uniforms for pep rallies and any kind of school spirit day.

It’s a very competitive team, Ms. Mejia-Rap said, but the competitions offer more than the opportunity to vie against their peers.

“I think that you can always learn from whatever competitors have to offer. It’s great exposure,” she explained. “You can always improve on your routine and showmanship.”

Next up for El Roble Cheer is team tryouts for incoming 7th graders and returning 8th graders, set for April 3, 4 and 5.

—Sarah Torribio


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