Cheerleaders, dance squad hopefuls try out

By Aisha Rodriguez


Inside Alice P. McDermott Convocation Center, groups of students gathered in circles stretching and shaking off nerves.

Cheerleading and dance tryouts were back and best impressions had to be made on Saturday, Sept. 3.

Among the new faces in the gymnasium was that of new cheer and dance coach, Melissa Martinez, originally from Laredo. Martinez acted as head cheer and dance coach at the University of Texas-San Antonio, is a member of the National Cheerleaders Association (NCA), and was a Spurs Silver Dancer.

“I just want a good group of kids that will take pride in the school, will perform, will be where they need to be and just have a good time doing it,” Martinez said, adding she hopes to expand both teams, taking them to new and higher levels.

To these students, making the team does not just mean attending games free and wearing special costumes. Students making either team will have an opportunity to obtain scholarships through their talents.

“I’m definitely planning on applying for scholarships through cheerleading,” said Nicolette Berton, a third-year transfer student from Northwest Vista College.

As for the personal meaning of either sport, “Dance has become a huge part of my life,” Desiree Tober, a 19-year-old sophomore, said. “I love performing. I feel like that’s what I live for. I like the competition and just putting everything I have into the routines.”

Although cheerleading and dancing are not considered National Collegiate Athletic Association sports, the squads are required to follow NCAA standards.  All students in cheer and dance must maintain a grade point average of 2.0 or higher, a standard set for all student-athletes.

Cheer and dance members feel like they learn a variety of skills and life lessons. Most of the students said it helps teach them time management, as well as build their confidence.

“Cheerleading has taught me how to be patient with others,” Berton said. “It has also taught me important leadership skills. Most of all, cheerleading has taught me the importance of hard work and working together.”

The students at the tryouts definitely worked together, helping each other with the routines, movements and steps throughout the process.

“I do it for the love of the sport,” said Sarah Alvarado, 22, who was on the UIW cheerleading squad when she was a freshman but took time off. “I’m looking forward to this year. I hope we become a competitive squad. It would really put our team and school on the map if we did.”

The expectations for both groups are high, but both Martinez and her athletes are eager to reach them.

“The whole year is an audition,” Martinez said. “Everyone has to re-try-out in April.” This will help students push themselves to work harder, building stronger teams.

“I just don’t want them to be the cheerleaders and dance team. I want them to be known as student-athletes,” Martinez said. “I’m hoping I can get that going.”

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