By Photos and story by Pfc. Chae Ki-soo/19th ESC Public AffairsNovember 15, 2010
Bring it on. Winning five Far East championships in the last eight years and seven Korean-American Interscholastic Activities Conference championships, the Daegu American School cheerleaders aim to impress.
Wearing their black and green school colors, they charm, wow the audience with their dynamic and vibrant dance routines, not to mention their stunting performances. Four girls stand with their hands up ready to catch their flyer teammate from falling as two girls raise the flyer up. Then high up there, the flyer performs a liberty, a one leg stand with the other leg stretched up. Despite whatever clichAfA or stereotype some may have about cheerleading, their performance requires athleticism, strength, teamwork and practice. Watching how they practice, it's easy to see why they're high school cheerleading champions not only in the Far East but also including American-Korean schools. If a girl arrives late for practice, she is penalized power jumps, which is a full jump while stretching both legs straight to the outside. Even 10 reps is challenging, but these girls endure the exhausting penalty because they are passionate about the sport.
The dedication and enthusiasm begins with their charismatic leader, Maylynn Padilla, Morale Welfare and Recreation family member, also 2010 KAIAC Allstar and 2010 All-American at the Far East. Padilla, a senior and four-year cheerleader said, "Cheerleading is such a competitive sport. It might look easy, but it's challenging because you have to memorize the routine, hit the moves hard and look happy." When asked what's been the driving force behind their excellence, she attributed trust in team, bonding and being a family as their main strengths.
Including Padilla, there are three seniors, four juniors, four sophomores, and three freshmen girls composing the squad. Even with some diversity in grades, the team is a very close-knit squad who enjoys the company of each other. There's diversity in their experiences in cheerleading from a four-year cheerleader like Padilla to a first year like Stephanie Colon, 25th Transportation Battalion family member. A senior herself and a fast learner according to Padilla, Colon said, "As an individual I learned new things and as a group, I really enjoy the new family." Their trust and bonding is apparent during practice when they're supporting each other for stunts or when they're smiling all throughout practice. There is another member of the squad who is quite aspiring, Aundrea Nava, 168th Multifunctional Medical Battalion family member. A junior and third-year cheerleader, Nava aspires to attend college with a cheerleading scholarship, challenging herself to the next level of cheerleading.
Away from cheerleading, the DAS cheerleaders are impressive as students in the classrooms with their grades. As young women, they are good role-models for the younger students at DAS. Molly Nava, team mom and second coach to the team said, "the younger girls in school really look up to the cheerleaders both as students and athletes." Angela Griego or Ms. G as the cheerleaders call her, DAS athletic director, added, "We expect the girls to win both the Far East and KAIAC competition again this year. They've been great and there's no reason they can't do it again this year."
Cheerleading may not be the most popular sport, but the cheerleading team is an influential team in the community.