Cheerleading for Glendale College football and men’s basketball was just part of the excitement for this year’s Vaquero cheerleading team. Two other highlights were a commercial for ESPN’s post season football bowl games and the 2011 UCA National Championships.
UCA stands for the Universal Cheerleaders Association, which put on the College Cheerleading and Dance Team Nationals in January.
To compete for the national title against Division II colleges and universities, the Glendale cheerleading team sent 16 members to Orlando, Fla.
Glendale placed eighth in the nation.
Head coach Jessie Moorehead said, “Coming in eighth (out of 16 teams) was the lowest place we’ve ever received, but [this was] one of the best groups of kids I’ve had the opportunity to take to the national championships. The discipline of cheerleading has really improved their lives.”
In December, the 2010-2011 Glendale cheerleaders performed in a dance and cheer commercial.
The taping of the ESPN/BCS commercial for the College Bowl Championship Series took place on GCC’s Sartoris field with rap star B.o.B. and the USC Drumline.
Without the ESPN opportunity and the financial support of family, friends and sponsors, the coed Vaqueros would have been hard-pressed to afford the one-week trip to the Sunshine State to compete in the UCA nationals – the most recognized stage of all college cheerleading events.
Teams across the nation submitted “bid” tapes of their skills, crowd-leading techniques and game-time situations to qualify for the 2011 nationals. Of those good enough, some received money to compete; others just received an invitation.
Glendale submitted two bids – one for “Large Coed Jr College” and one for “All-girl Div II” – and received a partially paid bid for both teams.
To save money, the Vaqs combined the coed and all-girl teams and sent their eight best coed and their eight best all-girl members to Florida.
“We’re going to work even harder next time so the UCA can assist us in [all of] our travel costs,” said Moorehead.
Before a recent practice in Room 104 of the Sierra Nevada building, cheerleader and English major Kaci Campbell said she really enjoyed the season and is planning to try out this summer to become a Laker or a Clipper Girl.
“Not many junior colleges compete in Florida, let alone make it to finals,” she said. “I was really nervous and so excited at the same time. [But] once I was on the competition floor, I wasn’t [that] nervous anymore.”
Before stretching out on the mats, Victoria Moreno, who is hoping to get a cheer scholarship from the University of Oregon and cheer for the Ducks, said she was proud of every single member of her team.
“Cheer has changed my life completely and has kept me?focused in school. I couldn’t have come this far if not for the advantages this sport and this team have given me,” she said.
The UCA experience made a lasting impression on her, too. “I got to see and meet cheer teams from all over the country,” Moreno said. “The butterflies didn’t hit me until I saw that Disney background at the competition itself.”
Just before the groove music came on, second-year team member and physical therapy major Robyn Weissman, who is planning to go to Cal State Northridge, said, “Competing for a national championship was an amazing feeling.”
Third-year team member and kinesiology major Kevin-Anthony Zelaya said he is applying to the University of Alabama, the college that placed first in the nation at this year’s UCA nationals.
“Every team was great,” Zelaya said. It was a win for our program, gave Glendale College the recognition we like to get, and really brought our team together.”
Another way the team has raised funds for competitions like the UCA opportunity was by appearing in the “Bring it On” movies and “Fired Up” (2009).
TV tapings featuring Vaquero cheerleaders have included “Let’s Make A Deal,” “So You Think You Can Dance,” “Are You Smarter Than?a 5th?Grader” and “Family?Feud.”
Reminiscing about the ESPN/BCS commercial, Moreno said, “We filmed from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. I was so honored to have the opportunity to fly (through the air) in this commercial.”
Zelaya said he got to meet one of his favorite musicians and actually threw B.o.B. a touchdown pass in a game of flag football during the video shoot’s dinner break.
“It was totally the coldest day that I can remember, but the filming was a lot of fun,” Zelaya said. “It was a lot of hard work though. It was really demanding on the body because every time you got warmed up, the cold would come in and take it all away from you.”
The actual commercial featuring the song “I am the Champion” is titled, “ESPN BCS B.o.B Commercial Video w Glendale College Cheerleading.” Another clip with Vaqs performing is titled, “Glendale College Cheerleading at ESPN/BCS Bowl Commercial,” and both can be seen on YouTube. They can also be accessed through the cheerleading link on the GCC website’s athletics page.
Moorehead said ESPN broadcast this commercial and clips of Vaqs performing before and during all the post-season college football games such as the Rose Bowl, the Peach Bowl and the Orange Bowl.
Getting media exposure is the most effective way to inform the public and possible future cheerleaders about the benefits and rewards of joining the Glendale cheerleading program.
“Cheerleading is more than just a sport, it can change your life,” said Campbell. “It promotes a healthy lifestyle in a?world where obesity is becoming a problem. It gives girls and guys confidence in themselves, and it teaches you how to work with different types of people and how to work in a team.”
The 2010-2011 team is gearing up for recruiting new members for the 2011-2012 team. Moreno insisted that the hard work and friendly atmosphere is truly worth joining the team for and can be a life-changing experience.
Cheerleading is an excellent way to go if a student wants to improve his or her self-image, Moreno said. “Cheerleading is not just about the competitions and trying to look pretty in the air – it’s about feeling good about yourself and shaping the person that you want to be.”
Glendale College Cheerleading will be holding tryouts on April 16 at 1 p.m. in the basketball gym. There are also stunt clinics on April 11 and 13 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. for those who want to prepare for the Saturday tryouts.
For further information about tryouts, interested parties can go to the website www.glendalecollegespirit.com and click on “Try-Out Info.”
Sponsors including Montrose Travel and the Rocky Cola Café donated between $50 and $500 to the Vaquero cheerleaders.
To see the names of all the team’s sponsors, readers can go to the above website and click on “Sponsors.”