Cheer’s new faces

Sep 22, 2012 No Comments by

SAN RAFAEL, Calif. – Fall has arrived, and with it a new round of tryouts for the Dominican University of California cheer team.

Even though the girls are light, effervescent and loud the cheer team is not easy to make, requiring great elegance, strength and rhythm.

There are no automatic bids onto the team, even returning captain and current senior, Amanda Aguilar, had to go through the tryout process.

“I think it’s a great idea,” said Aguilar. “These girls need to stay on top of their game, and if they’re not fully prepared, their spot could be taken by a freshman who is working harder.”

Tryouts took place Friday Sept. 14 in the multi purpose room of the Conlan Center. The ordeal was long, hot and demanding; forcing the girls to endure practice from Monday through Thursday in preparation for tryouts the following day.

Despite the challenge put in front of them, there was a strong showing. “We had 25 girls show up on Monday, and only 16 were still standing by Friday” said 4th year cheer coach Gigi Gillard (who was a cheerleader herself during her four years at Dominican). “Then from there, we had to cut down to 12 girls and one alternate.”

The cheer team has a very busy schedule. According to Aguilar there are three two hour practices a week, but that is not enough time to nail down routines so the girls have to go out and practice on their own time.

“It would be amazing to have a male cheerleader, it would increase what we are able to do stunt-wise.  But our girls are studs and can more than handle it themselves.’’

—Gigi Gillard, Cheer Coach

During the four year tenure of Aguilar there has not been a male cheerleader. This is something that she hopes to see change.

“We would be able to expand what we can do in a routine so much if we could have guys on the team,” said Aguilar. “Since I have been cheering for Dominican, we have not even had a male try out for the team.” Coach Gillard had similar thoughts to Aguilar, but she doesn’t concern herself with it, “It would be amazing to have a male cheerleader, it would increase what we are able to do stunt-wise.  But our girls are studs, and can more than handle it themselves.”

(Photo/A. Aguilar) The judging panel takes notes at cheer tryouts, Sept. 14, 2012.
From left to right: Kristina Fontecha, Assistant Coach Meghan Peck, Head Coach Gigi Gillard, and Arian Ahbadi.

Last year, the team traveled to one away game in order to support both the men’s and women’s basketball teams when they took on Cal Baptist in Riverside.

It always excites the cheer leaders to be able to travel and support the basketball players away from campus. Much of the funding for their travels came from the support  of former Athletic Director Terry Tumey.

While some members of the team were worried about the prospect of getting to travel again, coach Gillard was very confident it will not be a problem, “I’m really positive about it,” she said. “Terry really supported us, but Athletics overall is still supporting us, so I am confident it will happen.”

 “Come out and support the cheer team, and most importantly, all Dominican sports.’’

—Coach Gigi Gillard

The cheer team will be working at warp speed this year to avoid using a routine more than once in the season. Last year, the team had to repeat one routine three times. Gillard, Aguilar, and the rest of the team plan on not letting this happen again. “I feel like when we repeat a dance, it shows us in a bad light,” said Aguilar. “It makes it seem like we don’t put enough effort into learning more than one dance at a time.”

Gillard is very excited about the challenge of having two new dances (one for women’s halftime and one for men’s halftime) set to go every game night. She said, “Cheer has been a developing program for a year or two now, and this year we have a really talented, hard working group of girls who should be able to handle the increased work load.”

The cheer team performances will begin when basketball is slated to start on Nov. 2 , with a home exhibition game against Corban University.

Gillard has just one wish for the students and faculty of Dominican University, to “Come out and support the cheer team, and most importantly, all Dominican sports.”



Campus, Sports

About the author

Brian Sanchez is a senior Communications and Media Studies major at Dominican University of California with an emphasis on Sports Broadcasting. When he isn't broadcasting sports for Dominican University on he is writing about them. He is thrilled to have the opportunity to join The Habit in time to be a part of the launch of the web edition of the student newspaper. He hopes to cover all things Dominican to the best of his abilities and use that to land a job covering sports for a career after he graduates. It doesn't matter what sport or where, but his ultimate goal is to end up back in the bay area covering the teams he grew up watching.
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