Cheer team gears up for nationals win

The SF State Cheer Team tosses up freshman Amberlyn Leonard in the air during practice in the Wrestling Room on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.Brenna Cruz

The SF State Cheer Team tosses up freshman Amberlyn Leonard in the air during practice in the Wrestling Room on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.

Dressed in neatly pressed white and purple uniforms with matching shoes, the SF State cheer team gathers on a mat every Tuesday night in the gymnasium, persistently practicing high-flying basket tosses to perfection.

The cheer team is enthusiastic about their 2016-17 season and optimistic about a win at nationals.

“We’re hoping to be involved with the campus and place really well in our national,” said team captain Karla Lopez. “We’re competing in a new competition this year at the Universal Cheerleaders Association, we’re really hoping there’s a open spot for a Division II large co-ed team and we look to take that title this year.”

In the competition, qualified cheerleading teams from colleges across the country come together to compete for a National Cheerleading Championship at the Walt Disney World Resort in Orlando, Florida, according to the UCA’s website.   

Lopez is entering her fourth and final year as a member, giving her extra motivation to help lead her team to reach their goals. Lopez’s burning desire also stems from her disappointing absence last season due to injury.

“It’s my final season so I’m really excited to give it my all,” Lopez said. “I was injured last year, so it was a waste of a season for me but I’m ready to compete one last time.”

Third year co-captain Daniel Conceiçáo said their primary focus is performing well in competition.

“We’re going to a new competition this year, and we really want to make our presence known and make a name for ourselves out there,” Conceiçáo said.

Conceiçáo expressed that he is excited about the team’s new acquisitions and looks forward to what they can contribute.

“We have a lot of new talents, I look forward to unlocking their potential, the skill level we can get them to, and essentially see what they can give to the team.” Conceiçáo said.

Freshmen Joel Martin-Dill and Katie Josiah joined cheerleading to expand their knowledge and skill sets and believe that their personalities and energy will be beneficial to this season’s team.

“I’ve done practically every sport that I could, and I wanted to try something new,” Martin-Dill said. “I think I bring upliftment, excitement and leadership to the team.”

“I did cheer all four years of high school, and I knew when I started that I wanted to do college cheer,” Josiah said. “I’m definitely spunky, I bring personality, humor and I like to light up the mood.”

Conceiçáo said beside their new acquisitions, the biggest difference between this year’s team and last is the style of cheers.

The SF State Cheer Team practices in the Wrestling Room on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.George Morin / Xpress

The SF State Cheer Team practices in the Wrestling Room on Tuesday, Sept. 13, 2016.

“Last year we did NCAA, which was more like show cheer and all-star cheer,”  Conceiçáo said. “This year is more collegiate, professional and focused more on techniques rather than dancing and out-there stunts.”

Lopez said the most notable upcoming performance for the cheer team will be held at the first home basketball game in November.

“Besides that if there’s any school events that we’re invited to or that we’re able to help out, we will, but right now we’re just prepping for games and nationals,” Lopez said.

He also added  he loves the new team’s dynamic.

“I love the team dynamics. Everyone is very welcoming, want to help each other and there’s no negativity and once we’re on that mat, we’re one big team.”

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