“WHO’S TIME? OUR TIME. WHO’S TIME? OUR TIME.”
“ONE, TWO, THREE: OUR TIME IS NOW!”
And so begins the pinnacle of LAHS cheer’s achievements: USA Nationals. The curtains sweep open, the lights swerve on, and in one blinding moment, the world is enveloped in a blast of brightness as our cheerleaders freeze in a pool of spotlight. And then the music blares out and, in the midst of a howling audience and a booming background, they step fluidly into routine and deliver LAHS’s best cheer performance of the year.
Ninety seconds of dancing, thirty seconds of cheer. And just like that, in precisely 2 minutes and 30 seconds of carefully pre-planned stunts, dancing, double jumps, kicks, floorwork, tumbling and motions, the LAHS cheerleaders crammed in 12 months worth of blood, sweat, and tears into one precious moment on stage Friday, March 29.
“It was definitely nerve-wracking,” senior Roxanne Cardenas said. “Inside of me I was just thinking, ‘Okay, this is it. This is going to be the performance of the year.’ In my heart I knew that this was one of the most memorable routines I have ever performed.”
And it was. Besides placing fourth out of 12 teams in the Large Varsity Novice Division at Nationals, a subgroup of the team also placed fifth out of 36 schools in the High School Group Stunt Intermediate division. While all team members competed in the Large Varsity Novice Division, the team split into two stunt groups for the Intermediate Division: Team Blue, which consisted of Roxanne and senior Annie Frates, junior Monica Hsu, and sophomores Allie Barreira and Anastassiya Bronnikova, and Team White, which consisted of Co-captains seniors Emily Laurence and Jerusalen Jimenez, juniors Jocelyn Marin and Morgan Jaffe, and sophomore Roxanne Rogers.
Although Team White did not advance to finals due to a drop in its routine, Team Blue, which competed against 31 other teams, made school history by placing fifth within the top 10.
The road to success, however, has not been easy, as the team has had to overcome physical and mental barriers. The cheerleaders have been practicing for this competition since last April and throughout the summer.
Despite their exhaustion following hours of ceaseless routines, Coach Nikia Crawley stayed relentless and motivational. Before practice every day, Crawley dimmed the lights and asked the girls to lie down in a circle, hold hands, close their eyes and listen to a series of inspirational messages and movie quotes that inspired the cheerleaders.
“They helped a lot because in those last few weeks, you just want to give up,” Jerusalen said.
Looking back, all members agree that they have not only come so far from the beginning of the year, but have also grown emotionally together. Due to practice hours, cheerleaders often see each other more than they see their families, and through thick and thin, they have stuck together. And now, they are family.
And the big moment? When it came down to those final precious 2.5 minutes, almost all members agree that this last performance was their best.
“It was probably one of the best feelings after, knowing that we hit everything possible,” Roxanne said.
The competition the team faced last week was largely familiar. LAHS cheer once again encountered two-time national champion Notre Dame High School, whom they defeated this year at a previous regional competition, as well as Buchanan High School, who competed in the Intermediate Division last year.
While Buchanan took first place this year, followed by Notre Dame and Beaumont High School, LAHS received fourth place for a .5 deduction for tumbling–a mistake several members could not see it all, despite reviewing the video multiple times.
“[USA] has butchered our results so many times,” Jersualen said. “We knew we didn’t deserve fourth place, but there’s nothing you can do.”
Overall, the team is satisfied with its performance.
“We knew in our hearts that we did a first place performance, and the feeling after we performed was the best feeling I’ve ever had,” junior Cathy Liu said.