The Vintage High School cheer team will compete in the USA High School Spirit Nationals on Friday and Saturday at Anaheim Convention Centeria.
The Crusher squad will compete against 22 teams in the Medium Varsity Novice Show Cheer Division and will be scored on jumps, stunting, tumbling, showmanship, cheer motion technique, crowd engagement and dance technique. In order to qualify for finals on Saturday, they must place in the top 35% of teams on Friday.
A team needs to score 85 points or more at a USA Regional Competition to qualify for the national event. Vintage qualified with a third-place finish at the James Logan Regional in Union City, and a fourth place at the USA Santa Cruz Boardwalk Regional.
Vintage attended the USA Premier Camp this summer at UC Santa Cruz, where the team was awarded a superior rating for its Game Day and Showtime Performance. They were also selected by all the cheer teams in attendance for the “Unity Award,” which honors a team that had great spirit, showmanship and teamwork.
The Vintage team includes captains Marie Schaumkel and Alice Graham, Paris Bader, Jacqueline Aguilar, Azaria Ochoa, Daisy Alvarez, Anjelina Venegas, Arianna Farmer, Camila Aguilar, Daniela Contreras, Ella Whitteker, Jenna Schuh, Jewelyette Newman, Julissa Brucker, Maribel Rubalcava and Savannah Husted.
The cheer assistant coaches are Deedee Villanueva and Brandon “DJ” Kirkland-DeJesus.
Head coach Angie Ruiz is in her second year at Vintage coaching the cheer, pep and dance teams. She previously coached and choreographed for the Napa High Spiritleaders from 1998 to 2017.
The Vintage cheer team practices three to four days weekly, cheers at 30 fall and winter sports events, and participates in community events throughout the year in the Napa Valley.
Each member must maintain at least a 2.0 GPA to participate, though the squad’s average GPA is 3.35.
The Vintage dance team will compete at the National Dance Alliance High School Dance Championship March 5-7 in Orlando, Fla.
The team will hold a Cheer and Dance Youth Clinic for students ages 4-12 on Feb. 28 at Vintage. Participants will each learn a cheer and dance from the Vintage teams and receive a T-shirt, water bottle and, while supplies last, a backpack. Visit vhscheeranddance.wordpress.com for more information, or follow the team’s journey at the varsity.com.
“I think our greatest strength is getting right back up every time something went wrong,” Schaumkel said, “because we’ve came from a long way of ups and downs during this season and my team didn’t let those downs stop us from competing and wanting to go to nationals. We attacked those downs and pushed through it. Another one of our greatest strengths is that we’re doing this with all heart. Despite all the injuries, the pressure, the endless long practices, we’re doing what we love and love doing it.
“Besides wanting to make finals at nationals, my goal for nationals is for my team to hit every single motion, stunt, jump, and tumbling pass as hard as they’ve ever hit it. I also want my team to have a fun time and have confidence on that floor. We’re on that floor for only 2 minutes and 30 seconds, so I want my team to attack our routine as hard we’ve ever hit that routine because I want my team to make this year’s nationals count.
Fellow captain Graham said the team also thrives on its versatility.
“One of the greatest strengths we have as a team is definitely being able to adapt to changes and overcome obstacles, whether it’s a small change in formations or the entire routine changed,” she said. “This team has the dedication to work hours and hours on end to get it down to a tee and perfect any given changes while being able to maintain a positive outlook on all of it.”
“Athletically my goal for nationals is to perform with the confidence that both my team and I have done everything we possibly could to prepare for that performance as well as perform to the best of my ability and put into action everything we have all have been drilling and working so hard for. Aside from that though, my goal is to help make this trip to nationals something everyone can look back on and be proud of.”
Kirkland-DeJesus said team members have put on brave faces when they’ve needed to this season.
“They have impressed me with their ability to deal with setbacks with dignity and grace under pressure,” he said. “Nationals is a time to compete against teams from all across the country. It’s an opportunity to test our skills against the best of the best. I’m excited for our team to show off the hard work we have put in for months. We have showed the Vintage community the strength and athleticism is takes to be a cheerleader.”
Ruiz said the girls have been working since April on their skills, endurance, strength and overall performance.
“Now it all comes down to just 2 1/2 minutes on that mat,” said the head coach. “The challenges they have overcome have been inspiring, and their determination has been incredible. April to February is an incredible commitment for not just the athletes but also their families who have made this year possible. We are also grateful to our community for supporting the team through countless fundraisers and attending the events we host.
“We are excited to start this last chapter together and see how far we can go representing Vintage High School with Crusher Pride and make our community proud.”
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